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Governor McDonnell Looks Back on His Years in Office - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Governor McDonnell Looks Back on His Years in Office

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Governor Bob McDonnell will hand over the reigns to his successor in one month, and he has a lot he can be proud of leaving office.

McDonnell helped guide the first major, bipartisan transportation reform in nearly 30 years. He championed changes in education, and restored more civil rights to non-violent felons than any other governor.

But at a time when he is supposed to be celebrating those accomplishments, McDonnell finds himself under continued scrutiny.

“Thirty-seven years in public service, and no one has ever questioned my leadership or my integrity,” he said.

Marred by scandal and questions about his relationship with a wealthy campaign donor, McDonnell’s final year in office has not been easy.

“It goes to the core of my being and who I am,” he said, “so yeah, it’s been a tough stretch.”

Federal investigators are still irking to determine whether McDonnell provided special treatment in exchange for a reported $160,000 in gifts and loans from outgoing Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. An independent review earlier this year concluded McDonnell awarded no public money to the company.

McDonnell maintains he did nothing illegal, but says he will recommend changes to Virginia’s gift laws for politicians before he leaves office. And amid the widespread coverage of the gift scandal, McDonnell says the media got some things flat wrong.

"People should check their sources,” he said. “There was some erroneous information and some poor reporting that was done, and things that were not accurate.”

With just a month left in office McDonnell isn’t dwelling on regrets, but says he’s focused on finishing strong.

“I think we’re leaving the campground a little better than we found it. I think people have largely said that our team has done a good job,” he said.

He prides himself on keeping Virginia ranked highly as a good state for business, and credits working across the aisle with some of his administration’s biggest accomplishments.

“We fashioned solutions, which is what people want. Not talk, solutions," he said.

Rumors suggest after he leaves office in January McDonnell could take a position with his alma mater, Regent University.

“I’m looking at doing some things differently, I’ve got a real interest in higher education,” he said.

But McDonnell says he has not yet decided what’s next for him; he has to finish the job in Richmond.

“For an average middle-class kid like me from Northern Virginia, to have the same job as Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson has been a remarkable privilege.”

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