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Cuccinelli reverses course, sends check to cover gifts

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Posted at 6:50 PM, Sep 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-11 09:51:08-04

Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, in a tight race for governor, released a YouTube video today saying he would send a personal check to a Richmond charity to cover more than $18,000 in gifts he got from a corporate CEO whose political generosity is under investigation.

"I did this to resolve any questions surrounding the matter concerning Star Scientific," Cuccinelli said in the video. "I made the decision to send the check because it was the right thing to do, plain and simple."

Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams has lavished both Cuccinelli and Gov. Bob McDonnell with gifts. Last month, McDonnell said he would repay Williams $125,000, and give back gifts. Reports show Williams gave the Governor and his family cash for wedding expenses and shopping trips, loans for businesses and access to jet flights and vacation homes.

Investigators want to know if that generosity bought the nutrition-supplement company political favors. McDonnell denies there was any favoritism.

Cuccinelli admitted he received more than $18,000 in gifts including private-jet travel and vacation lodging from the CEO. He said last month it wasn't the kind of gifts he could just give back, and he didn't have the family funds to simply write a check.

Today, he said he donated more than $18,000 to The Cross-Over Ministry, a Richmond-based Christian charity focused on health care. Last year, the charity raised more than $9 million, according to its tax records.

The campaign for Terry McAuliffe, Cuccinelli's opponent, sent this statement:

"Time and again, Cuccinelli has demonstrated that his personal interests and extreme agenda come first, and his sudden change of heart over his involvement in the Star Scientific scandal are simply more of the same."

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