Democrats push Ken Cuccinelli to appoint special prosecutor in Star Scientific case

cuccinelli-header2Democrats in the Virginia House and Senate today urged Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to appoint an outside investigator to determine whether Cuccinelli or Gov. Bob McDonnell broke any laws by failing to disclose or mischaracterizing gifts, stock and trips from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.

“This weekend Ken Cuccinelli asked Virginians simply to trust his judgment that he saw no need to investigate whether he or Governor Bob McDonnell violated state law when they failed to properly disclose gifts, stock and free trips related to Jonnie Williams,” said Virginia Sen. Mamie Locke (Hampton). “That sort of insider dealing is below the standard that Virginians expect for transparency and accountability in government. Cuccinelli should appoint a special investigator to ensure that taxpayers get answers on these important matters.”

Virginia Del. Bob Brink (Arlington) continued, “Ken Cuccinelli apparently has given himself a clean bill of health in the Star Scientific matter. That’s not good enough. His and Bob McDonnell’s dealings with Jonnie Williams and Star Scientific have raised a number of questions that Virginians deserve to have answered. The law requires candidates and public officials to disclose financial ties that may affect their ability to do their jobs even-handedly. McDonnell and Cuccinelli failed to meet those requirements fully. It should not be up to Cuccinelli to decide whether those failures violated state law, he should appoint an impartial investigator to make that determination.”

Del. and DPVA Chair Charniele Herring (Alexandria) said, “It is a shame that Ken Cuccinelli’s refusal to resign his office over his shady conflict of interest with Star Scientific continues to tarnish Virginia’s reputation. Allowing Cuccinelli to determine whether his and McDonnell’s conduct with the same CEO merits investigation is a sure way to further damage the public trust. If Cuccinelli won’t resign, he should at least make sure an investigator is able to look into his and McDonnell’s statements of economic interest to determine if their failures to properly disclose gifts, stock, and free trips broke any laws.”

In 2011 Cuccinelli failed to disclose the stock he owned in Star Scientific even as his office represented Virginians in a tax lawsuit against the company. Yet he managed to buy more Star Scientific stock after the company filed its lawsuit against the Commonwealth and at the same time Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams paid for Cuccinelli to travel to Kentucky to campaign for a Republican candidate for Attorney General. In his financial disclosure Cuccinelli inaccurately called the trip simply a “meeting.”

McDonnell’s statement of economic interest failed to disclose a $15,000 gift from Jonnie Williams for food at McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding, despite the fact that McDonnell signed the contract with the wedding’s caterer, who is now preparing to stand trial on embezzlement charges. Cuccinelli’s office is responsible for representing Virginians in that trial, another issue on which Virginia leaders have urged him to recuse himself due to a conflict of interest.

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