Late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, the communications director for embattled Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell denied a report on a prominent Virginia politics blog that McDonnell was finalizing plans to resign from office.
McDonnell has come under fire for potentially having violated the state’s ethics laws by not reporting a Rolex watch valued at around $6,000 when laws require him to report any gift valued over $50. McDonnell’s office has claimed the gift was from a “personal friend” and thus not in violation of the state’s ethics laws.
Bearing Drift, one of the most respected and indispensable sites on Virginia politics, reported on Saturday night that two independent sources said McDonnell is “currently in the middle of finalizing a plea agreement which includes his resignation as governor.” Bearing Drift also reported “multiple more sources confirming plea agreement is definitely being finalized.”
Sources also independently confirmed to JHPolitics on Saturday night that Bearing Drift’s story was accurate. Like Bearing Drift, JHPolitics provides extensive coverage of Virginia politics.
Because Bearing Drift has considerable influence in the Commonwealth, the blog post did not go unnoticed by reporters and political observers or unanswered by the McDonnell camp.
McDonnell communications director J. Tucker Martin repeatedly insisted on Saturday and Sunday to state and national reporters–and on Twitter–that reports of McDonnell’s impending resignation were false. Martin told Breitbart News that the Governor’s office hasn’t issued, or plans to issue, any formal statement on the matter. He said the office became aware of the reports and reiterated that they are “false.”
Early on Sunday morning, Bearing Drift’s Shaun Kenney wrote that Willie Deutsch, the contributor who posted the story, stood by his reporting and has agreed to potentially be banned as a contributor should his report be proven incorrect. Kenney wrote:
Bearing Drift editors and contributors spend a great deal of talent and time ensuring that when we do post stories and opinions, we do so with integrity. That is a tradition begun here by Jim Hoeft and Brian Kirwin, and upheld by the likes of Norm Leahy, Scott Lee, Brian Schoeneman, and myself. We take a great deal of pride in this, and rarely are we burned by exhibiting trust in our contributors.
For the record, Mr. Deutsch stands by his sources and stands by his post. Should his post prove erroneous, Mr. Deutsch understands that he may very well be removed as a contributor here at Bearing Drift.
The FBI is reportedly investigating McDonnell over reports that the CEO of Star Scientific gave McDonnell the Rolex watch at the urging of his wife minutes before a meeting McDonnell’s wife reportedly arranged with state health officials and the CEO. The CEO, Jonnie R. Williams, pitched state officials on the company’s health products. McDonnell’s wife also reportedly went on a lavish $15,000 shopping spree in New York with Williams. The FBI is also reportedly investigating McDonnell for using taxpayer funds to buy himself and his family personal items, petty theft from the Governor’s mansion, and having a donor pay for his daughter’s $15,000 catering bill for her wedding in 2011.