Cuccinelli apologizes and donates value of gifts to charity

5:38 PM, Sep 10, 2013   |    comments
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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli apologized for how he's handled the gift scandal in which he's been embroiled and announced in this video that  he's making a payment.

After weeks of brushing off calls to give back the gifts he took from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, Cuccinelli says he's donating the sum of the gifts he received, $18,000, to a charity.

"I made the decision to send the check because it's the right thing to do, plain and simple," Cuccinelli said in a two-minute video shot in his kitchen.

"This is something I would have liked to have done sooner, but like most Virginians, writing a check for more than $18,000 is not a simple matter for my family and me. It's taken a while to get our funds together.

"For those who have been disappointed in this situation or how I've handled it, I apologize. It's been a humbling set of lessons for me."

Terry McAuliffe and his campaign has been pounding Ken Cuccinelli for taking the $18,000 in gifts which included trips to New York, a stay at Williams's Smith Mountain Lake Home and a $1,500 Thanksgiving dinner.

Williams is the same CEO who gave more than $200,000 in loans and gifts to Governor Bob McDonnell, who's under two investigation for the scandal. While McDonnell announced six weeks ago that he was working to repay all of it Ken Cuccinelli did not, would not or could not, until today.

"It's very troubling for a candidate running for the state's top office will only do the right thing after there is a major outcry," said Democratic State Senator Barbara Favola.

She says Cuccinelli's charity gift does not negate what she calls unethical behavior: Cuccinelli taking gifts from the CEO of company that his own office was supposed to be going after in a tax dispute.

"The problem is that Star Scientific has this $1.7 million tax issue pending before the state and that just doesn't sit well.

"I just think he's decided it might help his campaign to give the money to charity. I think, unfortunately, this is completely motivated by political reasons, not by anything else," said Favola.

Cuccinelli had previously resisted calls to pay back those in tangible gifts.

At a recent candidate forum he told reporters that writing a check for $18,000 was something he could NOT do from his family's perspective.  He has seven children.  His campaign says that the money came from him, his wife and help from the family.

Cuccinelli donated the money to Cross Over Healthcare Ministry, which calls itself Virginia's largest free health care clinic.

Written by Peggy Fox

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