According to documents obtained by The Washington Post, McDonnell signed the contract for the catering at his daughter Cailin’s 2011 wedding. He also paid two deposits for the event. When Williams’s check overpaid the total catering bill, a $3,500 refund check from the catering was made out to Maureen McDonnell and not to Williams or the newly married couple.McDonnell's story has changed, too:
At the time of the wedding, a McDonnell spokesman said the family had paid for the event. But Caldwell now says that McDonnell’s daughter and her fiance decided to pay for the wedding expenses and that the gift from Williams helped them cover much of the cost of food.Right. We're supposed to believe that McDonnell didn't know who paid for his daughter's wedding and hadn't asked her as of late March when the story was beginning to make news? Ignorance aside, part one of McDonnell's defense is that this is not just a campaign donor but a family friend. A family friend of five years. Five years ago, McDonnell was the attorney general of Virginia, getting ready to run for governor, so it's not like we're talking about a childhood friend who's been giving him gifts since before he had any influence in the state. Part two of his defense is that, hey, his daughter was paying for her own wedding and this family friend helpfully decided to help her out with that. Except that we know that McDonnell was originally going to pay for the wedding, so if the donor-friend paying for the catering was what made it possible for Cailin to say she'd pay for it herself, then that was effectively a gift to the governor, now wasn't it?
He said McDonnell doesn't know whether other wedding expenses were paid through gifts to the couple.
Next on the list of sketchiness is exactly who this donor is. Jonnie Williams is the CEO of Star Scientific. Tech company? Pharmaceutical? Medical devices? Nope. Sketchy dietary supplement manufacturer trying to make tobacco into health supplements. In fact, Star Scientific started out as Star Tobacco. The governor's wife, Maureen McDonnell, went to Florida the week of her daughter's wedding to promote Anatobloc, one of Star Scientific's products, to a group of doctors and investors. Also in 2011, the McDonnells let Star Scientific hold a lunch launching Anatobloc at the governor's mansion, which was also the site of Cailin McDonnell's wedding, while Williams let the McDonnells vacation at his lake house. Isn't it cozy?
McDonnell is term-limited out, but this can't be helping any future political ambitions he had. (If his ambitions were in tobacco supplements, he may be in luck.) If Virginia voters want Jonnie Williams and Star Scientific to continue to be forces in state politics, though, they can just vote for gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. He too has accepted gifts from Williams.