Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been closely tied to Star Scientific’s CEO Jonnie Williams by stock ownership, vacation house usage, a Thanksgiving dinner and travel on Williams’ private jet. Michael Herring, Richmond Commonwealth Attorney was appointed by Cuccinelli to investigate Gov. Bob McDonnell’s financial disclosures and relationship with Star Scientific.
The report focused on Cuccinelli’s statements and says it was “in no way intended to offer an explanation for the behavior of the Attorney General or any member of his staff.”
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Virginia State Police (“VSP”) reviewed all documents provided by the Attorney Genera and interviewed various persons.
By law elected officials must disclose certain gifts or benefits from individuals and entities other than immediate family members and personal friends or accepting or soliciting anything of value in exchange for favors. “Beyond the reporting requirements, the Act circumscribes an official’s discretion to engage in certain transactions or receive certain benefits.”
Knowing violations of these provisions constitutes a Class 1 misdemeanor for Malfeasance.
The report explains that Cuccinelli told the VSP that when Governor Bob McDonnell’s relationship with Jonnie Williams came to light in August 2012 it “triggered his recollection of his own obligation to disclose his financial interest in Star Scientific.”
He went on to disclose “a number of reportable gifts and certain financial interests” Herring’s reports states that – “Our conclusions regarding the Attorney General’s Statements are based on evidence, or lack thereof, not suspicion.”
Cuccinelli amended his 2009 statement to add Williams’ payment for a flight by private jet estimated worth $628. He also disclosed a Thanksgiving holiday stay at Smith Mountain Lake estimated at $1500 and amended his 2011 statement to disclose his ownership in excess of $10,000.00 of securities in Star Scientific, a corporation formed and or operated by Williams.
He explains that because of his engineering background, he became interested in the purported science surrounding the company’s Anatabloc product. He received unsolicited samples of Anatabloc valued at $6711.00. He referred a friend and family member to Williams “so that they could learn about the product’s uses,” he told investigators.
Civil litigation regarding a tax dispute between the Commonwealth of Virginia and Star Scientific began in July 2011. The Attorney General explained that he learned of the litigation after Williams or Star Scientific filed suit. He also indicated that he made no recommendations of attorneys who might be able to assist with the litigation.
Footnote: (Although he is unsure of the date, the Attorney General advised investigators that he may have suggested that Williams contact a certain attorney at a Richmond law firm “to assist him and his company with the Tobacco Fund.” This quoted language comes from the investigative report and is not believed to be the exact words of the AG.)
The report reads: “Civil litigation regarding a tax dispute between the Commonwealth of Virginia and Star Scientific began in July 2011. The Attorney General explained that he learned of the litigation after Williams or Star Scientific filed suit. Records show that the Attorney General owned his interest in Star Scientific while his office represented the Commonwealth in litigation with the company.”
Another $3,255.00 worth of travel on his jet to a meeting in Kentucky was previously disclosed but later reclassified as a gift. He amended a 2012 statement for a week-long vacation stay at Williams’ Smith Mountain Lake property valued at $3000.
The Attorney General informed investigators that he asked Williams for use of his vacation property.
The report reads: “As of this date, July 18, 2013, our investigation finds no evidence that the Attorney General, in violation of the Act or any other law, received any payments, loans, or negotiable tender of any type from any reportable person or entity, including Johnny Williams and Star Scientific.
Our investigation finds no evidence that the Attorney General in any way promoted, supported or assisted Star Scientific while he had a financial interest in the company.”
But the report also stated that “although one cannot help but question whether repeated omissions of gifts from Williams are coincidence or a pattern reflecting intent to conceal, the disclosure of several other gifts and benefits from Williams in his original statements suggests that the Attorney General was not attempting to conceal the relationship. Furthermore, we find no evidence that in his Statements the AG intentionally mischaracterized gifts and benefits from Star Scientific and Williams.”
Cuccinelli in a statement said:
“I appreciate the work of the Virginia State Police and Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring to provide an independent, impartial review of my financial disclosures. This review vindicates what I have said all along. There was no legal requirement to refer my own filings to a commonwealth’s attorney to review, but I did it because I wanted to be completely transparent with the public.”
Herring now finished with Cuccinelli’s investigation unless the VSP uncovers other evidence. He now moves to investigating Governor Bob McDonnell’s past finances.