Cuccinelli moves to put Williams behind him

It should have happened months ago, but the Cuccinelli campaign finally comes to its senses on the Jonnie Williams mess:

After taking weeks of criticism for his connections to the Star-Scientific scandal, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) will donate $18,000 to an unspecified charity. That dollar figure is equal to the value of the personal gifts Cuccinelli received from company CEO Jonnie Williams.


Cuccinelli’s dogged refusal (and weak excuses) for not doing something like this a long time ago blunted his campaign’s relentless assault on Terry McAuliffe’s incredibly shady past. He will take a hit for writing the check, and the other side will dismiss it entirely. But it happens every time a politician is forced to atone for a sleazy donor (go ask Hillary Clinton about how that works. Or Tim Kaine).

Cut the check and move on.

Here’s the campaign’s press release. A video, featuring the candidate himself:

Exactly the right tone to take.

  • Nick Bukowski

    I love Ken, but is this an admission of guilt or wrongdoing on his part? If he is not in the wrong, this definitely makes him look guilty. I hope this becomes a non-issue in the coming weeks.

    • I’m with you, Nick. He had nothing to apologize for.

      • MD Russ

        Really? His office was investigating Star for tax evasion and he accepts catered gourmet dinners and free use of a Smith Mountain Lake weekend house from the CEO of Star?

        • Guest

          1. Star Scientific or anyone from there are still “innocent until proven guilty”
          2. Star Scientific and the CEO (other employees) are legally separate entities. Granted the CEO, the accountant, or other employees may be later personally implicated and at some point proven to be guilty of something.
          3. Dinners and “come spend some time at my house”………really? This isn’t the same thing as a Rolex that must be given to the wife.
          4. NONE of it is against the law!
          To pay it back is an admission of guilt and cowering in fear against bullies when you have done nothing wrong. I don’t like allowing your enemy to have you dance at the end of a string like this.
          At least he cut the check to a charity. It is hard to criticize that. Having done so does put him in a better position to argue for Ethics Reform. It also squashes one of McAuliffe’s ads against him.

          • reluctant activist

            I love the part where he talks about working for Virginians. Which Virginians? The SW Virginians that his office threw under the bus for the coal companies? The indigent Virginians who are getting screwed out of mental and physical health care? Or maybe the Virginians serving their state on the Board of Health? Or gay Virginians with jobs at Universities? Or perhaps married Virginians who like to have a little fun in the privacy of their bedrooms? Or female Virginians seeking access to legal health care? Probably not THOSE Virginians.

          • MD Russ


            In public life, being technically and legally correct does not necessarily equate to meeting the expectations of the voters. In my career in the Defense Department, we had something called the “Washington Post Test.” If you would be embarrassed to see something that you were doing on the front page of the Washington Post, there is an excellent probability that you shouldn’t be doing it.

            You can argue very lawyerly-like that KC did nothing illegal. But the fact that these disclosures have been a sea anchor on his campaign such that he feels it is necessary to cut a five-figure check shows that, while he might not have violated the law, he certainly failed the Washington Post Test.

        • Britt Howard

          Although, “come hang out at my house” and dinners are hardly comparisons to other gifts given to others, you may have a point Russ. If his office was investigating tax evasion. It would be seen as a conflict of interest. That would be the ONLY reason to cut a check. This way he personally gains nothing in the off chance the investigated is found innocent.
          I wasn’t even thinking about or even recalling a tax evasion investigation. I was thinking more along Bob McDonnell lines.
          If this is the case, I have to change my opinion and say he must cut a check. You persuaded me. We wouldn’t want prosecutors or an AG getting gifts, even token ones while they mount a case against the gift giver.

          At least he cut the check to a charity. It is hard to criticize that.

  • nmill005

    As stated, this should have happened as soon as Cooch’s name was linked to this mess. One of the many reasons this party is doomed in November.

  • Daniel Cortez

    Clearly this is the new Ken Cuccinelli. And his humility and sincerity shows. Yes he should of done this months ago and by the polls he has taken a really big hit due to his involvements with Star Scientific and attack presentation with the press. Yes he should move on but he should continue to show approachability and candor on all issues in his life. If he does he could still win this thing. Virginia elected McDonnell because “Bob is for Jobs!” Pretty good template if you ask me. Who has the ability to put Virginia back to work and work responsibly across the aisle? That is who will be our next Governor.

  • DJRippert

    Any chance the “Richmond based charity” is the Bob McDonnell Defense Fund?

    Well, better late than never. This is a step forward. I just wonder if this bodes ill for Gov. McDonnell. Maybe Cooch figures that Jonnie “the canary” Williams is singing into prosecutors’ ears.

  • I’m glad he did it, but cutting an $18,000 check isn’t easy. That had to smart.

    • Britt Howard

      It flies in the face of being “broke” doesn’t it?

  • isophoroneblog

    Maybe Mudcat’s advice comes in handy? LOL

  • Wally Erb

    Somehow sincerity was lost with the absence of eye contact. Poor production. Scrap it , look into the camera, scratch the dummy cards and do it over.

    • Daniel Cortez

      Well Wally I see this as Cuccinelli’s best presentation to date. A little humility can go a long way. But humility 101 is not exactly what is part of the conservative playbook. But is it indeed too little too late? We will know very soon.

    • I don’t feel the sincerity, either.

  • John Ub

    What he does not address is “What was he thinking” when he accepted the gifts and bought and sold the stock of a company that was under Tax Code investigation by his office. And then he reported the gifts retroactively when he found out the gifts would be disclosed due to the McDonnell investigation. It does not hold water in my opinion. From 2005-2012 he income varied from $134K to $264K a year ($193K avg)- is $18K really a hardship for him?

  • Scout

    This does nothing, really. The acceptance of these gifts was horrible judgement at best. The correct thing to have done was to have refused them in the first place. The next best was to immediately return them or their value to Williams. If I take a gratuity and then use it to fund a charity of my choice, I really haven’t returned anything. I just used the swag for something I want to support. I don’t see how this “removes the albatross.” The best defense would be that it’s smaller pelf than that taken by others.

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