Since April of this year, Virginians have been reading about “Gift Gate” involving Republican Governor Bob McDonnell accepting gifts from Star Scientific’s Jonnie R. Williams Sr. They were never reported because the governor purportedly believed they were wedding gifts for his daughter Cailin.
Unfortunately this entire episode is making Virginia look ridiculous. On a personal level, I supported, campaigned, and voted for Gov. McDonnell but in my opinion, Gift Gate was perpetuated out of stubborn pride. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there is nothing illegal or wrong about this in the state of Virginia, which is included in 10 other states in our nation that allow officeholders to accept gifts with no cap. The only thing the governor had to do was disclose. As is, our next Gubernatorial campaign will be wrought with controversy.
Virginia’s Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling understands this concept completely. “When somebody gives a gift to my wife or a gift to my kids, chances are they’re given a gift because of me”, Bolling said, adding that he reports everything given to his family, “even a piece of pottery or tickets to a race”.
“The recent situation regarding gifts to the governor’s family has brought to light that a technical reading of the law does not include gifts to family members…My view is that they should be reported.”
Technicality being what it is, it was the Governor who signed the reception and catering agreement and placed the initial two installments before informing his daughter and future son-in-law. Later, the sum amount of $15,000 was paid to the same catering company as a gift from Mr. Williams for the wedding in addition to a refund paid out to Mrs. McDonnell– and not to their daughter–after said function. Another twist is that the daughter and her groom reportedly had said they would take on the financial burden of paying for their own reception costs.
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