Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell
(Photo: Bob Brown, Richmond Times-Dispatch, via AP)
WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Tuesday he has repaid more than $120,000 to a political donor and apologized for bringing "embarrassment" to the state.
"Being governor of Virginia is the highest honor of my 37 years in public service," McDonnell, a Republican, said in a statement. "I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens."
For months, McDonnell has been dogged by headlines in The Washington Post and other news outlets about his ties to Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. Among other revelations, Williams picked up the $15,000 catering bill for the 2011 wedding of one of McDonnell's daughters and financed a $15,000 shopping spree for Maureen McDonnell, the governor's wife, at Bergdorf Goodman. Williams is also said to have paid $6,500 for a Rolex watch that Maureen McDonnell gave to her husband.
Federal and state authorities are investigating McDonnell and his ties to Williams, whose company makes dietary supplements. The disclosures have damaged the reputation of McDonnell, a prominent Mitt Romney surrogate in 2012 who was once touted as a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
The repayments include $52,278.17 to cover a loan Williams made to Maureen McDonnell and $71,837 loaned to a real estate business co-owned by the governor and his sister. The repayments cover the principal of the loans and interest. McDonnell said the funds for the repayments came from him, the real estate business or his family.
The statement from McDonnell represents a shift for the governor, who had previously criticized the news accounts of the gifts from Williams. McDonnell, who cannot run for another term in 2014 under state law, has resisted calls from Democrats to resign.
"I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence," McDonnell said. "I hope today's action is another step toward that end. Virginia has never been stronger and I plan to focus on creating even more jobs and facilitating greater opportunity during the last five months of my term as your governor."
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