One day after Governor Bob McDonnell announced he and his family would repay thousands of dollars in gifts from a wealthy campaign donor, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he will not do the same.
McDonnell and Cuccinelli came under fire earlier this year for a series of unreported gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. Both men ultimately amended their financial disclosure statements to reflect the gifts, and investigations earlier this month found neither man broke Virginia ethics laws.
Cuccinelli told reporters Wednesday he supports McDonnell's decision to repay Williams for the gifts he and his family received.
"I'm glad he did it. I mean, the more he can clear that away, the better for Virginia," he said. "That's really my focus. Obviously I started the inquiry on the state level on the gift front, so I like to see him cleaning up as much of it as he can and that's a step in a good direction."
But when asked whether he also planned to repay Williams for $18,000 in gifts - including flights, trips, and meals - Cuccinelli said it's more difficult to return intangible items.
"You know, there's some bells you can't unring. You can't untake an airplane flight, you know?" Cuccinelli said.
He also weighed in on the state's existing gift disclosure rules, which only require elected officials report gifts valued at more than $50. Cuccinelli predicts the next General Assembly will be more receptive to potential reforms.
"I think the political will will be there in the next General Assembly session to finally start to move some of these things," he said, "like sweeping in family members, gift caps, and a more systematic reporting environment like we have for elections."
Democrats, meanwhile, continue their call for Cuccinelli to repay his gifts from Williams. In a statement Wednesday night, the McAuliffe campaign issued the following statement:
"Ken Cuccinelli made clear that he values the tainted luxury gifts from disgraced CEO Jonnie Williams more than he values the integrity of Virginia government," said McAuliffe spokesperson Josh Schwerin. "The refusal to restore some trust by returning gifts is a reflection of Cuccinelli's record of putting his own personal interests ahead of Virginia. The Attorney General should reconsider his stubborn refusal to acknowledge the embarrassment his keeping $18,000 in tainted gifts causes to the Commonwealth."