With his term as governor winding down and aspirations for higher national office, the last thing Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell needs is the FBI investigating what seem to be growing questions swirling around his relationship with Star Scientific and its chief executive, Jonnie R. Williams Sr. Worse yet, but not being forthcoming from the outset, McDonnell may well have dug his own hole deeper. Both he and his would be successor, Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli seem to have constant ethics issues surrounding them. Frankly, it could not happen to a more deserving duo and I hope the dirt just keeps on coming out. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the FBI's entry into the picture. Here are highlights:
FBI agents are conducting interviews about the relationship between Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, his wife, Maureen, and a major campaign donor who paid for the food at the wedding of the governor’s daughter, according to four people familiar with the questioning.
The agents have been asking associates of the McDonnells about gifts provided to the family by Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. and actions the Republican governor and his wife have taken that may have boosted the company, the people said.
Among the topics being explored, they said, is the $15,000 catering bill that Williams paid for the 2011 wedding of McDonnell’s daughter at Virginia’s historic Executive Mansion. But questions have extended to other, previously undisclosed gifts from Williams to Maureen McDonnell as well, they said.
The interviews, at which Virginia State Police investigators were present, began in recent months as an outgrowth of a federal investigation of securities transactions involving Star Scientific, which produces a dietary supplement called Anatabloc. The company disclosed that probe in a regulatory filing last month, saying it had received subpoenas from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Now, federal officials are trying to determine whether to expand that investigation into a broader look at whether McDonnell or his administration took any action to benefit Star Scientific in exchange for monetary or other benefits, according to the four people familiar with the interviews. It is unclear whether the probe will be broadened.
[T]he FBI interviews represent a potential escalation of the growing controversy about McDonnell and his wife’s relationship with Williams, which has consumed the state capital in recent weeks. Williams and Star Scientific have given McDonnell and his political action committee more than $120,000 in publicly disclosed campaign donations and gifts, while the McDonnell family has received other benefits, such as a vacation at Williams’s lake house in western Virginia.
The focus of the FBI interviews has been to determine whether any of those actions constituted a quid pro quo — McDonnell using his office to promote the company in return for anything of value for him or his family — people familiar with the questioning said.
[I]f investigators gather enough other evidence, they may open a formal public corruption inquiry, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the interviews are private and they are not authorized to discuss them.
I've known McDonnell for almost 20 years. He's not stupid. I keep wondering whether this mess is due to greed or hubris. With Cuccinelli, who has his own Star Scientific baggage, it's an easier call - he thinks he's above the law not to mention the man is crazy.