POLITICS: PennAve

Virginia lawmaker calls on Bob McDonnell to resign amid FBI probe

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Beltway Confidential,Virginia,Steve Contorno,PennAve,Analysis,Bob McDonnell

The first Virginia lawmaker is calling on Gov. Bob McDonnell to resign amid allegations that the Republican leader took gifts from a politically connected donor without reporting it.

Sen. Chap Petersen, a Democrat from Northern Virginia, wrote McDonnell on Tuesday asking him to “come clean” on his relationship with Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Virginia-based Star Scientific. Williams lavished McDonnell and first lady Maureen McDonnell with gifts, including vacations and use of his Ferrari. Williams also picked up the $15,000 catering bill for the wedding of the McDonnell’s daughter, which the governor said he did not have to disclose because it was for a family member.

The FBI is investigating whether Williams, who also donated to McDonnell’s campaign, received political favors in return for gifts to the McDonnells, who helped promote a tobacco-based supplement critical to Star Scientific’s financial future. Star Scientific is embroiled in a state lawsuit over unpaid taxes and a federal investigation into one of its products.

Petersen said if McDonnell is “unable to explain (or deny) these reports or return the items, then I humbly suggest you should step down as governor.”

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin retorted that Petersen’s letter “appears to be premised on unconfirmed and inaccurate media reports.”

“As an attorney, certainly Senator Peterson understands this office’s not discussing the details of matters pending in the legal process,” Martin said. “And, as a legislator, certainly Senator Peterson is aware that Virginia’s disclosure requirements do not pertain to the families of elected officials.”

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