Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell enters his final month in office this week, and he's taking time to spotlight his administrations' achievements.
In a 30-minute interview with the Northern Virginia Bureau at the executive mansion, McDonnell reflected on his achievements but also answered questions about the gifts scandal that threatens to tarnish his legacy.
McDonnell acknowledges that northern Virginia residents in particular might see the landmark transportation funding plan as his signature achievement. But the governor says he believes his education reforms -- an A-F grading system for schools, the takeover of failing schools and a focus on more higher education slots -- will have more impact in the long run.
But the Governor's successes are often overshadowed by the lingering federal investigation into whether there was any criminal wrongdoing when McDonnell and some of his family members accepted gifts from Jonnie Williams, a political donor and the then-CEO of nutritional supplement company Star Scientific. McDonnell adamantly denies any wrongdoing and says he hopes his record will be judged on far more than the scandal-plagued final months.
"I think you judge a term over what’s been done over complete period of time,” he said. “I've given my heart and soul to public service now for 37 years since I was a lieutenant in the Army. The last 22 have been in elected office in Virginia, and this job has been the highest privilege of my life. An average kid from Fairfax County getting the same job as Thomas Jefferson. That's my story. It's a great American dream story that I think people should feel good about. I'd do some things differently. I certainly think in in retrospect, I understand why people raised concerns, and that’s why I decided to return gifts and repay loans. I tried to restore trust with the people of Virginia. Other people will have to judge what they think. What I know is I've worked tirelessly to get big things done.”
The Northern Virginia Bureau will have more from this interview Thursday on News4 at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and on NBCWashington.com.