Letter from Governor Bob McDonnell on his trip to the Middle East:
As you read this email I'm currently visiting with our troops in Afghanistan.
This trip began at the start of the week, but due to security requirements we weren't able to make it public until today.
On Monday I joined Montana Governor Steve Bullock for a briefing at the Pentagon, followed by a very moving experience meeting with wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Medical Center. I cannot say enough about the bravery and the courage shown by these great American patriots who have given so much so that we may be free.
Yesterday we arrived at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait and traveled to Udairi Army Air Field where I got to hold a town hall with Virginians serving there. The first thing I did was thank them, on behalf of all Virginians, for their service. After breakfast this morning with the troops we were back in the air, arriving here in Kabul a while ago.
We will remain in Afghanistan today and tomorrow, and continue meeting with Virginia soldiers and military leaders. Friday we will travel to Germany and visit a military medical facility to again meet with men and women who have been wounded in the service of our country. Part of that visit will be a little bit of a homecoming for me. I served in the Army in Germany in the late 70's as a platoon leader with the 2nd Armored Division, including running a medical clinic for our post. It will be nice to be back.
As Virginians, we have a close and historic relationship with the American military. This great Commonwealth can rightly be called the "home of America's Armed Services." From the Pentagon to Langley to Fort Lee to Naval Station Norfolk, the military defines our communities, employs our loved ones, and is an integral part of the fabric of life in this great state. I know that like myself, our daughter Jeanine who served in the Army in Iraq, and both my father and my father-in-law, so many of you have served our nation with honor and valor. Thank you for your service. And I also know that many of you who are reading this have loved ones in harm's way at this very moment. Our prayers and our deep appreciation are with you and your family.
This is a trip I've looked forward to for a long time. Freedom is not free. Everyday we wake up safe and secure because our neighbors, co-workers, family members and friends have volunteered to leave the peace of home for the danger and uncertainty of our world's most volatile locations. On this trip, I'm telling them, on behalf of all of us, thank you. The people of Virginia will never forget their service, their courage, their sacrifice.
God Bless Our Troops,
Governor of Virginia
July 24, 2013
Governor Bob McDonnell may be more than seven thousand miles away from the state of Virginia, but he can't escape questions surrounding the undisclosed gifts and loans he and his family received from a Virginia businessman. McDonnell took time out of his trip to the Middle East to to apologize for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and loans from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.
Via a satellite interview from Kabul, Afghanistan, McDonnell said, "To the degree that things my family did or that I did, in any way undermined that trust because of loans or gifts-while they were legal-if they undermined that trust, I am deeply, deeply sorry that it happened and take responsibility for that."
But his apology may not be enough. Kyle Kondik, of the University of Virginia Center for Politics said the McDonnell's efforts to put some distance between himself and the Star Scientific scandal won't put an end to the questions about his relationship with Williams his nutritional supplements company.
"The questions are going to be waiting for him when he comes back," Kondik said. "If he wants to recover from this he probably needs to be a little more open about what happened than he has been previously."
As politicians from both sides of the aisle have called for McDonnell's resignation, the Governor said he has big plans for the final five months of his term, and none of those plans include resigning.
"I'm laser focused," McDonnell said. "Our administration is undeterred by some of these other things. I want to be able to put that aside and I'm sorry that it's been a distraction...My sole focus is going to be having five good months of getting big things done and make an orderly transition to the next governor in January.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - In the midst of a covert trip to Afghanistan to visit American troops, Gov. Bob McDonnell says he will discuss undisclosed gifts from donor and benefactor Jonnie Williams later.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Kabul, Afghanistan Wednesday, the governor continued on an apology issued Tuesday when he announced he'd repaid more than $124,000 in loans from Williams. Williams is the chief executive of troubled Virginia nutritional supplements maker Star Scientific Inc.
But the governor would not discuss thousands of dollars in gifts, saying there will be a time for that when he returns from his military tour.
McDonnell met with U.S. military commanders in Kuwait and Afghanistan and with troops from Virginia. He visits an Army hospital in Germany before returning to Virginia this weekend.
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