Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell met with business leaders in Fairfax County Monday for an appearance that would have been nothing but celebratory, if not for the reporters asking questions about a possible grand jury investigation. News4's Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said Monday he can't answer questions about a Washington Post report that a federal grand jury will be impaneled to investigate whether he or his family took gifts in exchange for favors.
McDonnell was in northern Virginia to attend a gathering of business leaders and to take a bow for his landmark transportation funding plan.
But outside the Ritz Carlton Hotel ballroom in McLean, reporters focused on the Post report that a grand jury will begin meeting next month.
That development came to light after Del. David Ramadan (R -Loudoun) confirmed to the Washington Post that he had been subpoenaed to appear before the federal grand jury.
When News4 asked the governor about the grand jury he kept walking as he replied, "I can't talk about that I came to talk about transportation today."
The FBI has been investigating the relationship between McDonnell and a wealthy donor, Jonnie Williams. Williams is the CEO of Star Scietific, a nutritional supplement company. McDonnell has received more than $100,000 in political contributions from Williams.
Virginia's first lady, Maureen McDonnell, has attended promotional events for Star Scientific. But the FBI probe has focused on a $15,000 catering bill Williams picked up for the wedding reception of McDonnell's daughter. Del. Ramadan attended the wedding but it's unclear why he's been subpoenaed. Ramadan did not return phone calls asking for comment.
Other elected leaders at the McLean luncheon applauded McDonnell's accomplishments on transportation but Del. Tom Rust (R - Fairfax County) concedes the investigation is a distraction.
"I thinktransportation bill is one of his legacies," said Rust. "This doesn't help things any but I think we have to wait and see how it plays out and I think at the end of the day there's not going to be much there."
Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly said he thinks it's time for the governor to provide more information to the public.
"I know Bob McDonnell and I consider him an honorable man but like so many fellow Virginians, I've been frankly shocked about what I'm hearing and reading and certainly hope he'll avail himself the opportunity to better explain to Virginians what happened and why," said Connolly.
Political analyst Bob Holsworth said he doesn't think the investigation has hurt McDonnell's legacy yet.
"Right now i'm not sure the impact has filtered down to general public that much. It's really centered mostly on political insiders but it has the potential for not only harming Gov. McDonnell but also harming the Republican party in upcoming election."