The Attorney General's office has responded to a motion to prevent Ken Cuccinelli's office from recusing itself from the prosecution of Todd Schneider, the one time Executive Chef accused of stealing from Virginia's Executive Mansion.
Schneider's attorney Steve Benjamin is working to block Cuccinelli from removing himself from the case without specifically listing what conflict would prevent him from effectively prosecuting the case.
The move could be an effort to further bring into light Cuccinelli's relationship with Star-Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams, who paid Schneider to cater Gov. Bob McDonnell's daughter's wedding.
In the three page brief filed in support of the motion, Deputy Attorney General Patrick W. Dorgan outlines several different reasons for the AG's office to hand the case off.
Among them is a never before revealed connection between First Lady Maureen McDonnell's former Chief of Staff Mary Shea Sutherland and Cuccinelli. Sutherland has gone on to work for a fundraising and event company that Cuccinelli has worked with in his campaign for Governor.
Sutherland could be potentially called as a witness and the Attorney General's office wanted to make sure that there would be no appearance of impropriety.
The brief also goes to great lengths to point out the defense's effort to politicize the case and in particular its connection to Star- Scientific. Dorgan argues that based on what Benjamin has already asked for, it is possible that one or more members of the McDonnell administration could be called on as a witness and because the Attorney General serves as the Governor's counsel it could lead to awkward position of cross-examining a client.
The brief argues that the successful prosecution of the case could be hampered by the potential of the appearance of impropriety.
Whether or not it will be enough convince the defense counsel or the judge remains to be seen.
A hearing in front of Judge Margaret P. Spencer is set for May 2nd.
You can read the entire brief here.
Meanwhile, the Star- Scientific saga took another turn today when Cuccinelli revealed to reporters in an informal pen and pad session that he took reciept of several gifts from Williams that he once again forgot to report.
According to Chelyen Davis of the Fredricksburg Star who was there, Cuccinelli said he simply "forgot" Williams had provided him with a number of gifts and trips.
Here is a portion of Davis' report:
This again continues the story that the Republican ticket would like to give some closure to. However with several pending lawsuits in the works, the name Star-Scientific will remain in the campaign headlines for many weeks to come.
Cuccinelli’s relationship with Star Scientific and Williams became a controversy several weeks ago when it was reported that he held stock in the company, even as Star Scientific was suing the state of Virginia over a tax bill dispute.
Williams had given Cuccinelli gifts and travel worth about $13,000, according to Cuccinelli’s original financial disclosures.
Today Cuccinelli revealed more:
– A $628 trip from Jonnie Williams to and from New York City for a Jewish community center meeting in 2009
– A $7,751 charter flight from Alpha Natural Resources in 2010 to take Cuccinelli and his parents to a Virginia Mining Association meeting in Southwest Virginia. Cuccinelli was a speaker at that meeting, which he described as the association’s annual mine land reclamation awards.
– A 2010 Thanksgiving stay at Jonnie Williams’ Smith Mountain Lake lakehouse for Cuccinelli and his family, plus dinner that Williams had delivered. Valued at $1,500.
– In 2012, transportation to and from a rally by the Federation of American Coal, Energy and Security, valued at $795.
– In 2012, the Cuccinelli family also spent most of a week at Williams’ lake house for a summer family vacation, valued at $3,000
– In 2011, Cuccinelli revised his report to show that a $6,711 box of food supplements came from Star Scientific, not from Williams.
Cuccinelli told reporters he initiated a review of his past reports after a campaign staffer, who had formerly worked in the attorney general’s office, asked about a trip she thought he had taken that Cuccinelli thought had been reported but wasn’t.
He said it was simply an error to have left those five items off his disclosure forms, and was “unintentional on my part.”
“I declared everything I remembered when I filled out the forms,” Cuccinelli said.
See the full story here.