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Virginia governor to return all gifts to campaign donor

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) during their annual meeting in Washington, Feb
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) during their annual meeting in Washington, Feb

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND, Virginia (Reuters) - Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said Tuesday he would return all gifts he received from Star Scientific Inc Chief Executive Jonnie Williams in response to a gift-giving scandal that has engulfed the last year of his administration.

He made the comments in a radio interview with Washington station WTOP.

Last week McDonnell, a Republican, said he had repaid $120,000 in loans from Williams, a major campaign donor. He also apologized for the embarrassment the gifts and loans to him and his family had caused Virginia.

The gifts from Williams include everything from a $6,500 Rolex watch for McDonnell, to wedding and engagement presents and money for his daughters, and a $15,000 shopping spree for First Lady Maureen McDonnell.

The governor told WTOP that he one of his daughters had already returned a $10,000 engagement gift from Williams. The CEO also paid a $15,000 catering bill for the wedding of a second daughter, but whether that had been returned was unclear.

McDonnell said some of the gifts to his family he "did not know about at the time."

The governor, who is being investigated by state and federal authorities about his relationship with Williams, said last week in an interview with a Washington television station that he had no intention of resigning.

Several state Democratic lawmakers have called for him to step down, because of his relationship with Star Scientific, a dietary supplement maker headquartered just outside Richmond.

McDonnell previously said the donor derived no "special benefits."

During the radio interview, McDonnell, who once was mentioned as a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said he now had one focus.

"I'm working on repairing any loss of trust" his and his family's actions have caused, McDonnell said.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Scott Malone and Andrew Hay)

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