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Ken Cuccinelli failed to report gifts from supplement maker

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli admitted Friday that he failed to disclose thousands of dollars worth of gifts he received while in office, including trips paid for by embattled Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.

Cuccinelli said at a Richmond press conference that the errors on his disclosure filings were unintentional mistakes, according to reports, and he has asked the Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Herring to review his financial disclosure statements.

It's the second time in recent months that Cuccinelli has been forced to amend the disclosure statements that are filed annually by elected officials. Earlier this year, Cuccinelli fixed a 2011 statement that failed to report he owned more than $10,000 worth of stock in Star Scientific, a Henrico-based supplement maker that is in a legal dispute with the state over unpaid taxes.

Cuccinelli recused himself from the case involving Star Scientific following reports that he purchased more stock in the company after it sued the state. The Republican candidate is facing Democrat Terry McAuliffe to become the next governor.

According to the amended disclosure statements, Williams paid $628 for Cuccinelli to travel to New York in 2009 and $1,500 in 2011 for a Thanksgiving vacation and dinner. Williams also spent $3,000 for Cuccinelli to have a family vacation in 2012.

Gifts from other companies also did not show up on previous filings. In 2010, Alpha Natural Resources paid $7,751 for Cuccinelli and his parents to attend a Virginia Mining Association ceremony and last year Legatus picked up $313 in travel expenses for the attorney general.

Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix said the discrepancies were discovered during a "thorough review of all travel records and scheduling information."

"Ken Cuccinelli has always deeply believed in honesty, transparency, and maintaining the public's trust. This philosophy is not just something he talks about; it is a central component of how he performs his job," Nix said. "Today, upon completion of that review, Ken came forward and released additional information."

State Democrats said it was further proof that Cuccinelli should resign from office to run for governor, like most attorney generals before him.

"It is an embarrassment to Virginians that the person they hired to protect their laws can't seem to comply with them with his repeated failures to disclose trips he took from his corporate benefactors like Jonnie Williams and Star Scientific," state Democratic Party spokesman Brian Coy said. "Virginians deserve better than Ken Cuccinelli's ongoing conflict of interest scandals."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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