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Virginia governor repays loans to benefactor

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, R, said Tuesday that he had repaid loans to a supporter of his, loans which have become the subject of ethics investigations into the governor.

McDonnell said in a statement that he had repaid over $124,000 in loans to Jonnie Williams, Jr., the CEO of a troubled dietary supplements manufacturer. According to a release by McDonnell’s legal team, McDonnell repaid several loans – one to his wife, Maureen, for over $52,000, and two to the real estate company owned by the governor and his sister. Those loans totaled almost $72,000 in value.

“I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens,” McDonnell said in a statement.

But McDonnell also asserted that he “broke no laws,” and framed his actions on Tuesday as a means toward “regaining [Virginians’] sacred trust and confidence.”

The repayment of the loans included both principal and interest, and was paid for either by the governor, his family or the family business.

McDonnell’s actions, though, do not appear to extend to reimbursing Williams for several gifts he and members of his family allegedly accepted from Williams. Virginia ethics rules only require disclosure of gifts given directly to the governor.

Whether today’s actions will quiet the uproar involving McDonnell’s ethics is an open question. The question of McDonnell’s ethics has begun to weigh on the campaign to elect Virginia’s next governor this fall.

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican attorney general hoping to succeed McDonnell, said at his first debate this past Saturday versus Democrat Terry McAuliffe, that questions about the current governor’s prospective resignation are “appropriate.”

“While that question is appropriate to ask Gov. McDonnell, and it is appropriate to ask him to think about that,” he said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask for the sitting attorney general to address it when I started one of the investigations.”