Today, the Virginia Public Access Project released information from personal financial disclosures by Virgina’s three leading officeholders: Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
There’s a bunch of interesting information there. Among the most interesting was gifts the officials accepted in 2011.
Gov. Bob McDonnell led the gift-taking, with more than $50,000 worth of bennies bestowed on him by admiring people and organizations. A lot of it was travel, such as for flights, food and lodging.
The largest single donor of gifts to the governor was Alexander B. McMurtrie Jr., a lawyer whom McDonnell appointed to his Commission on Government Reform & Restructuring.
McMurtrie donated $12,232 to McDonnell. On vpap.org, that’s broken down as $3,080 for a flight to South Bend, Indiana and $9,242 for a “Round-trip Flight from Richmond to South Bend to speak at Notre Dame.” Both of those are undated so it’s unclear if they were for the same event.
Cuccinelli, who was elected attorney general in 2009 and is now running for governor, accepted about $35,000 in gifts, compared to less than $3,500 worth in 2010 and gifts totalling $279 in 2009. (By contrast, Cuccinelli’s opponent for the 2013 GOP gubernatorial nomination, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, racked up a little more than $10,000 in gifts in 2011).
Cuccinelli also disclosed the single largest amount in gifts from any single donor: $12,965 from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., a former tobacco magnate who now heads Star Scientific Inc.
According to Forbes.com, Star Scientific “is engaged in the development of dissolvable smokeless tobacco products that deliver fewer carcinogenic toxins through the utilization of the innovative StarCured tobacco curing technology.”
Williams gave Cuccinelli the use of a lake house and a boat valued at $3,000, transportation to a meeting in Kentucky valued at $3,254, and “a box of a food supplement” valued at $6,711.
Wow. That sounds like a lot of food supplement. It must have been a large box. I wonder what it was — collodial gold, perhaps? Something else?
I’ve emailed the AG’s spokesman, Brian Gottstein, to find out more. I’ll update when I hear back from him.
Update #1: Here’s what Brian Gottstein, a spokesman for the attorney general told me about the gift in question:
“It is an experimental food supplement called Anatabloc, developed by Mr. Williams, a friend of the attorney general’s. It was an unsolicited gift that the attorney general received after he asked Mr. Williams what his latest project was. The AG found out the value after looking it up online when he reported the gift.”
The price of Antbloc on Amazon.com is $100 for 200 lozenges, which would suggest that Williams laid 13,400 lozenges on Cuccinelli. Gottstein didn’t answer the question about what Cuccinelli did with them.
So I sent him back this response:
Thanks for the answer. Is the AG using it? (From what I can tell, it sounds like Mr. Williams gave him a 12-year supply). If he’s not using it, what happened to it? Is it in his office?
Update #2: Here’s AG spokesman Brian Gottstein’s response to the questions above:
“I don’t know. I don’t get into those types of personal questions with him.”
Here’s what AP had a while back about Antabloc:
GLEN ALLEN, Va. (AP) — Star Scientific Inc. said Tuesday that it is now selling a new dietary supplement that is designed to reduce inflammation.
The supplement is called Antabloc. Star said it contains antabine, an alkaloid found in plants including tobacco, eggplant, green peppers, and green tomatoes, and also contains Vitamin A and Vitamin D3. The supplement is intended to help the body maintain healthy levels of inflammation. The company is conducting one clinical trial of Antabloc and plans to start two others in 2011.
Star Scientific sells dissolvable smokeless tobacco. Antabloc is its second nutritional supplement. The company already markets CigRx, which is intended to reduce cigarette cravings.
Note from Dan: My earlier eyeballed estimate of the gifts total for Cuccinelli was $40,000, which was too high. That’s been changed to $35,000, which is more accurate.