Tucker Martin, the director of Communications for Governor Bob McDonnell (R) and the Governor's chief spokesman since his time as Attorney General, recently amended his statement of economic interest from 2012. Martin added six gifts from 2012 out of what he called an "abundance of caution" to comply with Virginia's murky financial disclosure rules.
Virginia places no limits on the number of gifts that members of the legislature and the Executive Branch can receive, but it requires them to disclose those gifts. Exactly what constitutes a gift is not clear and the penalty for incorrectly filing a report is minor. Both candidates for governor have vowed to reform the process.
The new attention to the disclosure laws comes in the wake of gifts given to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) who is running for Governor and the man he hopes to replace, McDonnell. Both received substantial gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. Those gifts have come into question as Democrats have accused the two of giving Williams preferential treatment. A charge both deny.
Since the revelation of the Williams gifts, numerous McDonnell staffers have gone back to amend their returns to list various gifts. Martin is the fifth Executive Branch staff member to do so. He admits that the new attention given to gift disclosures is the reason he reviewed his report.
"I wanted to make sure everything that could be interpreted as a gift was reported," Martin said.
All six of the gifts Martin added to his report were related to his work with McDonnell. In most cases they involved travel with McDonnell to political events. Martin's hotel rooms were paid for by groups like Opportunity Virginia, McDonnell's personal political arm and the Republican Governor's Association, of which McDonnell served as chair.
"I use vacation days to travel with the Governor to political events to make sure the press back home is connected to his work outside of the state," Martin said. "My hotel rooms were primarily paid for by groups I am already connected to- primarily the Governor's PAC and The Republican Governors Association- which the Governor chaired last year. I know there was no special influence."
Martin estimates that half of his vacation time is spent on trips with the Governor in his political capacity. 2012 was a particularly busy year for McDonnell because of his role as RGA Chair and his work as a primary surrogate for Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign for President.
Martin said there is no specific precedent for people in his position when it comes to gift disclosure. He found a wide variety of differences in what was and wasn't reported, so he decided to be careful and report everything.
"My job is to keep the press connected to the Governor no matter where he may be. If its political travel and I'm with him I take vacation days," he said. "These groups were just paying for a place for me to sleep."
The full list of Martin's disclosures can be found below:
(additions from amendment marked *)
Name of Business City or County and State Gift or Event Approximate Value
NVTC Herndon, VA Presidential Series $78.15
OppVa PAC Richmond, VA PAC Retreat $748.90 *
RGA Washington, D.C. Senior Staff Retreat $1,729.70 *
RGA Washington, D.C. Annual Conference $510 *
Bill Goodwin Richmond, VA Cabinet Retreat $680.00 *
OppVa PAC Richmond, VA RNC Platform Meetings $1991.00 *
RGA Washington, D.C. RNC Convention $1220.00 *
*NBC12's Rachel DePompa contributed to this report.