Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he has given no thought to resigning in the wake of a federal investigation into gifts and loans a wealthy political donor has given the governor and his family.
"I'm not going anywhere. I love this job ... there has been no consideration of that," McDonnell told News4 Washington's Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey in a satellite interview from Kabul, Afghanistan, where he has traveled to visit Virginia troops.
Yesterday, McDonnell issued a written statement apologizing for the first time for "embarrassment" he or his family might have caused Virginia.
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."
McDonnell also reported he and his family had repaid more than $120,000 in loans to political donor and Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. The Washington Post has reported in recent months that Williams also paid $15,000 for one of McDonnell's daughter's wedding receptions, provided a $15,000 shopping spree for first lady Maureen McDonnell and also got the governor a $6,500 Rolex watch.
A federal and state investigation is underway.
The gifts came at a time when Williams was trying to get attention for a new nutritional supplement produced by his company.
When News4 Washington asked the governor if he also intends to repay Williams for the gifts, he did not directly answer the question, but replied, "I've said a lot about that already. There will be plenty more to say.
"I've always believed if you do a good job that all those other things will take care of themselves. For a long time the people of Virginia have trusted me to lead and do well and that's why we've been able to solve so many problems together," he said.
But McDonnell conceded, as he did in his earlier written statement, that he's let Virginians down.
"To the degree that some of the choices I might have made in my personal life, or my family might have made with some of those gifts, if its undermined people's sacred trust in me or government I want to make it right."
State Delegate Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax County, wants McDonnell to explain more and repay more.
"Those things need to be returned to Jonnie Wiliams or given to charity," Surovell said. "I think Virginians are owed much more information and answers about everything that's gone on before I'd feel comfortable changing my position. But I think this is a step in the right direction."
The governor is scheduled to return to Virginia. Until then, he told News4, “My focus for this week is solely on the warriors that are doing great work for the cause of freedom. That’s the most important job in my life right now.”
Here are some of the excerpts of McDonnell's interview with News4's Julie Carey.
Carey: "What wrongdoing, specifically, were you apologizing for?"
McDonnell: "I think because there were several gifts and loans and it all came from one donor, there was, at least in the view of the public, an appearance of impropriety.
"I've served the people of Virginia for 22 years now and I'm deeply sorry those things that have been done by me or my family have created a problem for Virginia's government and have caused some embarrassment. So I thought it was the right thing to do to make those loan payments back and begin to heal the trust that might have been broken between me and the people.
"So that's a step, and we are going to do some other things in the future, but mainly I'm going to do what I've done in the past and that's get big things done. I've got 5 1/2 months left to do that and that's what I'm going to focus on."
Carey: "Why did you decide now to repay the loans, and what do you hope it convey?"
McDonnell: "As you know, we've had a complete audit done of state government, and there have been no contracts or monies from the state or appointments or anything else that's gone to this donor.
"What I'm trying to demonstrate to people is what I've said from the beginning. My top role as governor, as you know, has been to promote Virginia business, to create jobs and opportunities. And we do it the same way for every business, regardless of what their status might be.
"And so I wanted people to know that, that Virginia government is working well, that we're continuing to focus on the things Virginians care about. We have a big surplus. We're working on transportation and education reforms, and I'm going to continue in this five months to be laser-focused on getting big things done.
"But I thought it was appropriate to look to the degree some of the choices I might have made in my personal life, or my family might have made with some of those gifts. If it undermined people's sacred trust in me or government, I wanted to make it right and that's what I was hoping to signal yesterday and let people know I continue to focus on the things that they care about."
Carey: "What consideration have you given to resignation?"
McDonnell: "None, I'm not going anywhere. I love this job.
"I think there were a couple of very bad rumors about that. I have been able to get some major problems solved for our citizens. Virginia is in better shape that most states. Democrats and Republicans are working together well in our state. I've tried to create that climate for bipartisan cooperation.
"I think that's what people appreciate and expect out of government, and that's what we're are going to try to do in these last five months, so there's been no consideration of that."