ALEXANDRIA—What do you do when your political career seems to be imploding? Go on vacation.
That’s what Virginia’s embattled Gov. Bob McDonnell is doing.
The Republican governor, asked to resign by at least two state senators and plenty of outside observers after a devastating Washington Post story revealed more alleged, undisclosed financial gifts from a controversial donor, is vacationing with his family the week of Saturday, July 13 through Friday, July 19, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, according to Press Secretary Taylor Keeney.
Keeney did not answer Watchdog.org’s questions as to how long the trip was in the planning and whether the governor will be in his office at all next week.
McDonnell’s press team passed along the initial memo in the governor’s public schedule emailed to reporters each Friday afternoon. No public events were listed.
Reports of McDonnell’s gift-filled relationship with Jonnie Williams, the CEO of a dietary supplement company under federal investigation, had been piling up — a $15,000 wedding catering bill here, a Rolex watch there. Reports of an FBI investigation into McDonnell and his wife Maureen broke in late April.
McDonnell said the gifts didn’t have to be legally reported under Virginia’s loose gift and disclosure laws, which make reporting exceptions for gifts from “personal friends” and gifts to family members.
But, the snowballing scandal really blew up on Tuesday night, when The Washington Post reported an additional $120,000 donated by Williams — an alleged $70,000 to the corporation McDonnell and his sister own, and a $50,000 check to McDonnell’s wife — none of which McDonnell directly disclosed. That brings the total of reported Williams-to-McDonnell-family gifts to $145,000 over 2011 and 2012, according to the Post.
NOTE: The original version of this blog post incorrectly said McDonnell and his family are vacationing in Camp Pendleton, California. They will be in the Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, not the one in coastal California.
— Kathryn Watson