They say the longest journey begins with a single step.
Today the Governor of Virginia finally acknowledged that the loans and gifts his family received from Jonnie Williams and Star Scientific were not acceptable, whether or not they were legal. He took a major step towards correcting the situation by repaying two of the loans today, with payments of $52,000 and $72,000.
It’s not clear the source of the repayment funds, but we’ll leave that question for another day. The bottom line is that the Governor has begun to do the right thing.
There are other items which need to be accomplished, most notably a full accounting of all loans and gifts received by the McDonnell family from Williams or Star Scientific. Secondly, there are still items (Rolex watch?) which should be returned, or sold and the proceeds distributed to charity. Again, we can leave that analysis for another day. At least we are on the “remedy” side of the ethical mess.
It was three weeks ago, when I sent my letter to the Governor asking him to “come clean” on the Star Scientific gifts and return them (or pay them back) — otherwise, he should resign. At that time, I was criticized for being “partisan” in my comments,which was ironic considering that my calls for a Governor’s explanation were generally shunned by the Democratic establishment.
Regardless, I thought sending the letter was the right thing to do, especially for this Governor who I considered an honorable man based on personal experience. Notably, I felt that it was better to ask him to come forward voluntarily, rather than be pulled kicking and screaming into a Federal court.
Today, there is some degree of personal vindication — but, in reality, it’s not about me or the Governor. It’s about having an open, honest government in Virginia. That democratic foundation was suffering from the slow drip of daily disclosures, directly eroding the confidence of our constituents.
Today, at least, we can focus on moving forward.