Political Analyst Talks about FBI Investigation of Va. Governor

By: Litsa Pappas Email
By: Litsa Pappas Email

HARRISONBURG -- Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's finances have prompted an FBI investigation.

This is just the beginning of the investigation. Federal agents are concerned about some large gifts that McDonnell received from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams .

Williams paid for the catering at Gov. McDonnell's daughter's wedding. That's a gift worth about $15,000. Large gifts like this raise some concerns because if Gov. McDonnell made any agreement in return for those gifts, he could face felony charges.

"Double-digit years in jail, so these are not minor violations," said Dr. Bob Roberts, a James Madison University political analyst about the possible consequences.

Dr. Roberts says this could be serious or it could be nothing. He says it's okay for political leaders to receive gifts, as long as they don't give anything back in return. That's called quid pro quo.

"Which is the public official does something for the person that's giving them something."

He says this investigation could affect Gov. McDonnell's political career.

"It would raise questions, regarding why would he put himself in this situation."

A WHSV reporter asked Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling about this investigation.

"Well I'm not going to comment on that. I think that's better commented on by the governor, and I'm sure he will say what he can on that as the process unfolds," said Lt. Gov. Bolling.

Dr. Roberts says the FBI does this to politicians all the time, so there may be nothing for McDonnell to worry about.

"Anytime these allegations occur, the FBI will investigate. It's one of their top priorities," said Dr. Roberts.

McDonnell released a statement on Tuesday in response to the investigation. He says nothing will impair his job to serve the people of Virginia.

There's no law in Virginia that makes large gifts illegal, but Dr. Roberts says if something comes out of this investigation, laws may change to prevent political leaders from receiving those gifts.

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