Va. Gov. McDonnell Apologizes, Says “I Broke No Laws”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell issued a statement Tuesday apologizing for the embarrassment that he and members of his family had brought on his state's citizens -- but he also said that in he "broke no laws" in his dealings with a connected campaign donor.

The brief statement said that loans made to McDonnell family by Jonnie Williams, CEO of Star Scientific, had been paid in full.

The repayments included $52,278.17 that was loaned to his wife, Maureen McDonnell, in 2011 and $71,837 loaned to a small real estate business owned by the governor and his sister, the statement read.

The loans include principal and interest.

"I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens," the statement read. "I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence. I hope today's action is another step toward that end."

McDonnell has been under state and federal investigation -- and under public fire -- for his ties to Star Scientific, a Henrico County-based company that makes a dietary supplement that the company hopes could be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and depression.

Authorities also are believed to be examining gifts that the McDonnell family received from Star Scientific, which reportedly paid the $15,000 catering bill for the wedding of McDonnell's daughter and gave the governor a $6,500 Rolex watch.

The controversy has taken a toll on McDonnell's popularity in the state, with only 46 percent of Virginians in a recent poll saying they approved of McDonnell's performance as governor. The poll, released earlier this month, measured McDonnell's lowest approval ratings of his time as governor.

But the statement seems to mark a change in McDonnell's approach to the controversy since he added to his legal team earlier this month.

Previously the governor defended his handling of the gifts and loans from Star Scientific and had suggested some media reports were misleading.

One of three Northern Virginia Democrats who have called for McDonnell's resignation says the governor's statement does not change his opinion.

"His statement does not deal with or address any of the luxuries or gifts he and his family allegedly received, " Fairfax County Democratic Delegate Scott Surovell told News4's Julie Carey. "There were $50,000 in gifts. It doesn't begin to address that."

Surovell says he does not believe McDonnell can continue to govern effectively with the distraction of the federal investigation that is underway.

Three GOP leaders in the Virginia House issued their own statement shortly after McDonnell.

House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford), Del. Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax County) and Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) called McDonnell's apology "an important step toward regaining the trust and confidence of the people of Virginia."

Their statement also says the controversy involving the governor raises questions about Virginia's financial disclosure system.

The governor has maintained all along he's properly accounted for gifts from Jonnie Williams. But Virginia law does not require reporting of gifts to family member. The GOP House leaders say they are reviewing the disclosure system and plan to seek strong reforms in the 2014 legislative session.

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