McDonnell Repays Star Scientific CEO

by Betsy Woodruff

Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia issued a statement today saying he has repaid the more than $120,000 that his wife and small business took from the CEO of Star Scientific. McDonnell’s relationship with the CEO, Jonnie Williams, raised serious ethics concerns, and several members of the legislature have called for his resignation.

“I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens,” the statement says. “I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence.”

The press release notes that the repayment includes both the principal and interest, and that the money used for repayment came from McDonnell, his family, or the family business.

Spokesman Rich Galen tells me the office has no comment on why McDonnell took the money in the first place. And Shaun Kenney, a Virginia conservative consultant and political editor at, says this question may dog the governor. Still, he tells me he found the governor’s statement effective.

“It’s the very definition of penance,” Kenney says. “You admit your guilt, you make a firm resolution to sin no more, and you go out and make reparations for what you’ve done.”

And James Parmelee, chairman of the Northern Virginia GOP PAC, also thought issuing the statement and repaying the debt was smart.

“I think it’s a good move to answer some of the public concerns out there,” he says.

But behind the scenes, some Republicans say that McDonnell’s political future is perilous, and he’s still under federal investigation.

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