Virginia’s scandal-mired Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell may be facing criminal charges over gifts and loans from a wealthy donor. According to the Washington Post, three people connected to the federal investigation of the alleged crimes confirmed that the donor — Johnnie Williams Sr. of dietary supplement company Star Scientific — has been cooperating with authorities, a sign that a federal case against the governor may be in the offing.
McDonnell — who has been nicknamed “Gov. Ultrasound” by some critics because of his role in implementing mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasound exams for women seeking abortions — is accused of a wide range of corrupt practices involving loans and gifts from Williams, who hoped to have one of his company’s products included on the list of medicines covered by the state Medicare program.
To this end, Williams reportedly bought the conservative Christian governor a $6,500 Rolex watch, took his wife on a $15,000 New York City shopping spree and paid another $15,000 for the catering at the McDonnells’ daughter’s wedding. The CEO also allegedly paid for McDonnell family trips and loaned the governor his black Ferrari to drive on vacation.
McDonnell has apologized for violating the public trust, but insists that he broke no laws. He said that he is hurrying to pay back several loans made to him by Williams and his company and to return all the gifts he received.
Star Scientific is a former tobacco company that has lost money every year since it went into business in 2003, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The company is currently battling with the federal government over $700,000 in back taxes and is under investigation for securities fraud.