The wife of embattled Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell spent nearly $10,000 on clothing with money from her husband’s political action committee and another $7,600 on personal items with funds from her husband’s inaugural committee, according to the Washington Post.
Under Virginia’s campaign finance laws, though, the purchases were legal.
The Washington Post reports that “using political money for clothes helped McDonnell step up her style while her family’s finances were hit by the plunging real estate market.” McDonnell and his wife reportedly had several properties that they bought “for a combined $3.84 million at the height of the real estate boom had lost value,” and “Maureen McDonnell complained to officials at Opportunity Virginia PAC that she didn’t have the wardrobe or resources necessary for her new role as first lady.”
A PAC representative confirmed to the Post that McDonnell had her PAC credit card taken away and the “$9,800 in purchases–all of those publicly linked either to the clothing stores or to the first lady–were clothing for her.”
These revelations come as Bob McDonnell is being investigated by federal officials for possibly violating the state’s ethics laws by not disclosing a $6,500 Rolex watch he received from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Star Scientific, a nutritional supplement company. McDonnell recently apologized to Virginians for embarrassing them and recently paid back more than $120,000 he and his family received from Williams without disclosing them. Williams had several meetings with state officials to market his company’s nutritional supplement products.
Williams reportedly also took McDonnell’s wife on a $15,000 shopping spree in New York and paid for the catering at her daughter’s wedding.
Public records suggest McDonnell bought at least $6,300 worth of clothing at stores such as “Nordstrom, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Ann Taylor.”
She also reportedly used funds from McDonnell’s inaugural committee, including purchasing more than $1,000 worth of clothes for the inaugural. The Bob McDonnell for Governor committee, the inaugural fund, also reportedly paid her $2,369 for “event” and “travel,” according to the Post, in addition to $3,087 for “event expenses,” and $1,021 for a camera.
Though candidates cannot use money from a PAC or committee while it is being disbanded, “there are no restrictions,” according to a Virginia State Board of Elections official, while a PAC is in operation in Virginia.
Nikki Sheridan, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Board of Elections, told the Post, “If they wanted to use the money to send their kids to college, they could probably do that. There is no restriction on clothing, grooming or legal fees unless you’re shutting down your PAC.”
A spokesman for McDonnell told the Post that Maureen McDonnell is borrowing the clothes and would donate them to charity after McDonnell’s term ends in January.
Image Source: Steve Helber/AP via Washington Post