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Troubles worsen for Virginia's Bob McDonnell

Associated Press

The ongoing scandal surrounding Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) continues to get progressively more serious, with the Washington Postreporting Friday that federal investigators are asking the governor's associates "about previously undisclosed gifts given by a campaign donor to McDonnell's wife that total tens of thousands of dollars and include money and expensive designer clothing."

Today, the Richmond Times Dispatch fleshes this story out with details the McDonnells may find embarrassing.

In the spring of 2011, Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell flew to New York and was treated to a high-end shopping spree courtesy of Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr.

During the trip, McDonnell spent time at the Manhattan showroom of famed designer Oscar de la Renta, where she tried on a suede jacket that cost at least $10,000. Williams put the garment on his tab.

Williams also bought the first lady two pairs of designer shoes, a Louis Vuitton leather handbag and a designer dress, according to sources familiar with the ongoing investigations into her husband, Gov. Bob McDonnell.

How many of these luxurious gifts appeared on the governor's disclosure documents? None, but therein lies the point -- McDonnell is required to report what he receives, but the law excludes gifts to family members.

So, if you're the CEO of a dietary supplement maker -- say, Star Scientific's Jonnie Williams Sr. -- and you're already under investigation, but you nevertheless want to show your generosity towards Virginia's governor, you wouldn't shower McDonnell himself with expensive gifts. You might, however, help pay for McDonnell's daughter's wedding and take McDonnell's wife to Oscar de la Renta's Manhattan showroom for a shopping spree.

And all of this comes on the heels of a report that McDonnell used taxpayer money for a variety of personal items, including dog vitamins and a "detox cleanse."

It wasn't too long ago that McDonnell was gearing up for a national campaign. It's safe to say he's now focused less on avoiding campaign pitfalls and more on avoiding indictment.