McDonnell won’t answer questions about Rolex watch

McDonnell did not disclose the reported gift, from a donor currently under federal investigation

Topics: Bob McDonnell, Virginia, Star Scientific, Campaign Finance, Republicans,

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, refused to answer questions about a Rolex watch that was reportedly a gift from a donor who is currently under investigation by federal officials, and which McDonnell did not disclose in his financial filings.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that McDonnell was asked whether he knew that the watch, worth $6500, had come from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr. “I’m not going to comment any further on that,” McDonnell replied.

From the Washington Post’s initial report on the watch:

Williams’s gift came in August 2011 — about two weeks after he met with a top state health official to pitch the benefits of his company’s health products at a meeting arranged by first lady Maureen McDonnell, according to people who know of the meeting.

Williams bought the watch at the urging of Maureen McDonnell, who admired Williams’s own Rolex and suggested that he buy her a similar one she could give to her husband, the people said. Her proposal occurred moments before the meeting she had arranged with the state official, according to one person familiar with the request.

Officials are currently investigating whether Williams improperly gave McDonnell and his family gifts in exchange for political favors, including paying $15,000 for the catering at the governor’s daughter’s wedding. Last week, the Times-Dispatch reported that Williams may have bankrolled an expensive New York City shopping spree in 2011 for Maureen McDonnell as well.



“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on any criminal case or any potential investigation that’s out there,” McDonnell also said on Thursday. He continued: “It’s critically important for the people to know that neither Mr. Williams or Star Scientific has received any special benefit at all from the state — nor has any other company. Mr. Williams and Star Scientific have not received any board appointments, no economic development grants, no special monies in the budget or any benefit from the state during the time I’ve been governor.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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