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McDonnell Gift Disclosure Saga's Potential Mark on VA - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

McDonnell Gift Disclosure Saga's Potential Mark on VA

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It's the controversy that's dominated Virginia headlines for months. Friday we dug into Governor Bob McDonnell's gift disclosure saga, and how it could impact his - and Virginia's - future.

The ethics scandal involving McDonnell and a wealthy campaign donor hit a new low this week, as one Virginia lawmaker called for McDonnell to explain undisclosed gifts or resign as governor. But political experts say the conversation is far from over, and could impact policy in the not-so-distant future.

McDonnell is accused of accepting lavish gifts from a friend and campaign donor, and not reporting them. This whole conversation began in March of 2012, when governor's mansion chef Todd Schneider left his job amidst allegations of stealing food and other items. He was formally charged with embezzlement a year later, and that's when things really start to get interesting. In court documents, Schneider alleges a wealthy campaign donor, Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, footed a $15,000 catering bill for the wedding of McDonnell's daughter.

In Virginia, all gifts worth $50 or more must be reported on an annual disclosure form, but there is no limit on gifts. What's more, anything not given directly to a public office holder, to a family member for instance, does not have to be reported.

McDonnell never reported the gift, saying it was a gift to his daughter, allowed under Virginia's existing disclosure rules.  "My job is to follow what the existing law says," McDonnell told reporters earlier this year. "I've been filling out the forms for about 22 years."

Details have also surfaced showing Williams also paid for a New York shopping spree for the first lady, and for the governor's $6,500 Rolex. In April, the FBI began looking into McDonnell's relationship with Williams as part of a larger securities investigation.

The saga is far from over, but lawmakers are already discussing potential changes to the state's political gifts laws.

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