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Cuccinelli Explains Failure to Disclose Gifts

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As candidates for governor in Virginia kick off their campaigns, Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli is taking heat for gifts he initially failed to disclose. Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey talked to him about the controversy.

Virginia Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli provided a fuller explanation Wednesday for why he failed to initially disclose gifts he accepted from the CEO of a company that's now under investigation.

"I'm not running for office as somebody who doesn't make mistakes," Cuccinelli told News4. "I certainly do make them and one thing voters can count on is when I do, I'll 'fess up to them."

Since 2009 Cuccinelli accepted more than $18,000 in gifts -- a flight, a stay at a vacation home, a catered Thanksgiving dinner -- from political donor Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Star Scientific. The one-time tobacco company makes dietary supplements.

Cuccinelli made a final disclosure of two gifts from Williams April 26 in a meeting with reporters closed to cameras. Wednesday in an on camera interview he said he did not have a good system in the attorney general's office to record gifts.

"I hadn't been attorney general before,” he explained. “I didn't really have any practice when I came in. This was kind of done on the fly as we go."

Ordinarily, Cuccinelli said, he'd wait until the end of the year and work with his secretary to try to account for gifts.

"Now I did remember some things so it wasn't like they didn't show up on my disclosures but I didn't get everything and that's my mistake," he said.

Cuccinelli said he's since put a new system in place. He's also now proposing stricter gift disclosure laws.

But Democrats have hammered Cuccinelli, suggesting he was intentionally concealing the gifts. Cuccinelli denied that and said there is proof Star Scientific did not get favorable treatment in exchange for gifts.

"The one time Star Scientific came across the radar screen of the AG's office they were immediately opposed," Cuccinelli said.

The company is suing the commonwealth over a disputed tax assessment.

Cuccinelli said he's asked Richmond's commonwealth's attorney to now review his amended disclosures.

Follow Julie Carey on Twitter at @JulieCareyNBC

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