As the Virginia gubernatorial race heats up, Terry McAuliffe once again called on Ken Cuccinelli to return gifts from a controversial donor—but his ethical concerns appear to only extend to his Republican opponent.
Politico reported on Friday’s forum, which was sponsored by four Northern Virginia chambers of commerce (Reston, Loudoun, Prince William, and Fredericksburg). The focus was intended to be economic issues, but the discussion often dealt with different topics such as transportation and tax policy.
At one point, McAuliffe "reiterated his call on Cuccinelli to pay back $18,000 in gifts from Williams."
The gifts in question are from Jonnie Williams, a key player in a federal probe of current Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.
McAuliffe has repeatedly called for his challenger to return the gifts. The persistence seems incongruous since McAuliffe has neglected to hold his fellow Democrats to the same standard by urging them to return similar gifts.
Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Delegate David Toscano have all received ostentatious gifts from donors.
Then-Governor Tim Kaine accepted an $18,000 vacation to the Caribbean in 2006. Kaine’s trip was paid for by a Virginia investor James B. Murray and lasted 10 days. According to Kaine’s spokesperson, the trip was not business related, but "a unique opportunity to get away with his wife and three children."
Mr. Murray had contributed $41,000 to Tim Kaine’s campaign for Governor, at the time of the trip. Murray was subsequently appointed to the Virginia Commission on Higher Education.
The trip to the Caribbean is only one of Kaine’s gifts. He has received over $186,899 in gifts and travel expenses since 2001. The gifts range from clothing to bottles of wine, and tickets to the Washington Wizards.
Sen. Warner has similarly received opulent gifts.
Toscano has joined McAuliffe in criticizing Cuccinelli’s gifts.
According to the report by Politico, Cuccinelli responded to the criticisms by noting that he called a press conference to acknowledge accepting gift from Williams, and not properly disclosing them despite having accepted "less tangible things like borrow[ing] empty houses and eat[ing] a Thanksgiving dinner."
Cuccinelli maintained he had returned what he could, adding, "If I could write a check … I would. That’s just not something I can do."