Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has asked Governor Bob McDonnell to call the General Assembly back to Richmond to immediately address Virginia's weak campaign finance disclosure rules. A request, the Governor chose not to grant.
The Washington Post first broke the story, but NBC12 has independently confirmed the news.
Cuccinelli's Chief Deputy, Patricia L. West asked the Governor to call the session in a meeting on Monday.
Cuccinelli and McDonnell have both dealt with criticism after receiving gifts from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Star- Scientific.
Cuccinelli took roughly $18,000 in gifts from Williams and initially did not disclose them. He asked Richmond's Democratic Commonwealth's Attorney, Michael Herring, to review the matter independently. Herring determined there was no evidence that Cuccinelli broke the law.
McDonnell has taken more than $120 thousand in gifts and loans from Williams and the connection has led to local and federal investigations. McDonnell has consistently said he did not break the law, but recently apologized for "embarrassing" Virginia and has started to pay back all of the gifts and loans to Williams.
In a statement Cuccinelli said a special session would help restore Virginian's trust in their government.
“Trust is something that is easy to lose and hard to earn back," Cuccinelli said. "I think the longer we let this go, the more difficult it is for Virginians to achieve the level of faith in their government that I think they’re accustomed to."
Democrats have been after the Attorney General for weeks to return the $18,000 in gifts to Williams, which Cuccinelli has been unwilling to do. They said his call for a special session today was too little, too late.
“Ken Cuccinelli asking for a special session on ethics is like Alex Rodriguez asking Major League Baseball to get steroids out of the game,” said DPVA spokesman Brian Coy. “For Cuccinelli to ask Virginians to take him seriously while he continues to sit on $18,000 in tainted Star Scientific gifts and trips is a brazen act of hypocrisy, even for him.”
Meanwhile, McDonnell is approaching the Cuccinelli request cautiously, but remains committed in his belief the issue can wait until January.
"The Governor was informed of the Attorney General's position on this matter, said spokesman Tucker Martin, "However, he believes the proper time and place for the consideration of such changes would be during the next session of the General Assembly, which begins in January.
Martin did say that McDonnell does plan to offer ethics reform proposals of his own.
"The Governor has said he would support changes to Virginia's existing disclosure laws to provide for greater transparency," Martin said. "He is currently working on his own proposals on the issue that he will put forward in the weeks ahead."
The move clearly puts the Governor's office in a tight spot. McDonnell had already pushed back suggestions that the legislature be called back to deal with ethics reform. It also forces him to answer more questions about the Star-Scientific scandal as he continues the process of rehabilitating is image.