Democrats demand outside investigation into Ken Cuccinelli, Bob McDonnell

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno,Democratic Party

Virginia Democrats said Monday that Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli should appoint an outside investigator to determine whether he properly disclosed his relationship with a Henrico-based supplement maker.

The Washington Examiner reported Sunday that state law puts Cuccinelli in charge of investigating economic disclosure forms for irregularities. But Democrat have been calling for a probe of Cuccinelli himself after the Republican candidate for governor invested in and accepted gifts from Star Scientific, a company that sued the state over unpaid taxes.

In 2011, Cuccinelli owned more than $10,000 in stock in the company but initially failed to disclose it. His office said it was a mistake, that Cuccinelli did not realize the value of the stock grew to exceed the $10,000 reporting threshold. Cuccinelli also increased his holdings in the company even as his office was representing the state in a legal dispute with Star Scientific.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a fellow Republican, also has close ties to the company and has received gifts from CEO Jonnie Williams. Williams also paid for the catering at a wedding for McDonnell's daughter. McDonnell did not report the gift on his annual disclosure forms because, he said, it was for a family member, not him.

"It is a shame that Ken Cuccinelli's refusal to resign his office over his shady conflict of interest with Star Scientific continues to tarnish Virginia's reputation," said state Del. Charniele Herring, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party.

"Allowing Cuccinelli to determine whether his and McDonnell's conduct with the same CEO merits investigation is a sure way to further damage the public trust," Herring said. "If Cuccinelli won't resign, he should at least make sure an investigator is able to look into his and McDonnell's statements of economic interest to determine if their failures to properly disclose gifts, stock, and free trips broke any laws."

Cuccinelli's office told The Examiner that any implication of wrongdoing is "pure fantasy."

Cuccinelli, meanwhile, continues to pressure Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe to release his taxes. Cuccinelli unveiled eight years of tax returns last week and has since put out daily releases demanding McAuliffe follow suit.

On Monday, the Republican's campaign released a new web video that includes video footage of President Obama and other Democrats criticizing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for failing to release his taxes on the campaign trail last year.

McAuliffe has not yet indicated whether he will make any tax returns public.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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