July 17, 2013
A prominent local Republican is calling for Governor Bob McDonnell to resign.
Shaun Kenney is the Chairman of the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors, and the former spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia. He says the ongoing gift scandal shows that the governor is unfit to stay on the job.
"When you see these sort of things and you see $50,000 trips to New York City, when you see $70,000 loans, $6,500 Rolexes, I think that crosses the ethical plane," Kenney said.
The governor allegedly accepted those gifts, and others, from family friend Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Star Scientific. Many of them went unreported, but McDonnell claims that he has not broken any reporting laws, and did not give special treatment to Williams or his company.
McDonnell Press Secretary Taylor Thornley Keeney sent a statement saying: "Star Scientific and Jonnie Williams have not received any board appointments, economic development grants, targeted tax incentives or government contracts during this administration. The governor has been diligent over the years in making his financial disclosures."
But Kenney says that is not good enough, and it is time for the governor to step down.
"The bar for resignation isn't legal or illegal," said Kenney. "It's not even ethical versus unethical. It's right or wrong."
Kenney says he used to be a strong McDonnell supporter, and other Republicans are finding the gift scandal hard to believe.
"There's a lot of folks that are still in shock," Kenney said. "But when the smoke clears and you start looking at it for what it is, it's just not good. We should expect better of our public officials, regardless of their political party. I'm certain that there are other Republicans who feel this way."
Political experts say that it is unlikely that McDonnell will step down, with so few months left in his term.
"McDonnell will probably only resign if it's as a part of some sort of plea deal to avoid any criminal penalties," said Geoffrey Skelley with the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
But even if McDonnell survives to the end of his term, Skelley says his legacy is ruined.
"This may end up completely casting a shadow over everything he did as governor," Skelley said. "It would be very difficult now to see McDonnell doing anything else in politics."