Virginia governor billed taxpayers for sunscreen, dog vitamins

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) during their annual meeting in Washington, February 19, 2010. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is said to be under scrutiny by the FBI. Credit: Reuters

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife used taxpayer money to pay for sunscreen and dog vitamins, the Washington Post reported, a disclosure that comes as the Republican leader is said to be under scrutiny by the FBI.

The newspaper, citing spending records it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also said the McDonnells used state employees to run personal errands for their adult children and billed the state for deodorant, shoe repairs and a digestive system “detox cleanse.”

The Washington Post has previously reported that McDonnell, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential contender in 2016, was under investigation by the FBI and a grand jury over a $15,000 catering bill from his daughter’s wedding in 2011 that was paid for by a campaign donor.

A McDonnell spokesman, Tucker Martin, told the newspaper that the couple had sought to distinguish personal expenses from state ones while living in the governor’s mansion. McDonnell was elected governor in 2009 and state law bars him from reelection.

“The McDonnell administration has adhered to precedent in reimbursing the state for items meant for personal use,” Martin told the Post in an email.

Administration officials could not immediately be reached by Reuters on Monday for comment on the report.

The governor has acknowledged that he stayed at the Roanoke, Va., home of campaign donor Jonnie Williams, and drove Williams’ Ferrari back to Richmond.

Williams is the chief executive of Star Scientific Inc., a nutritional supplements maker in the Richmond area.

According to the Washington Post, the FBI is looking into whether the governor’s office helped advance the business interests of Williams in exchange for the gifts.

The Post said that about six months after taking office in January 2010, an official who oversees spending at the governor’s mansion told the couple that they should not have charged the state for a number of expenses.

The Post asked the state for personal expenses it covered and received 16 sales receipts, most from 2011, the newspaper said. The records showed the McDonnells billed the state less than $600, including $300 they repaid, but continued to let taxpayers foot the bill for such items as vitamins, nasal spray and sleep aids, the Washington Post said.

In other allegations about management of the governor’s mansion, the McDonnells’ former chef Todd Schneider has said in court filings that the family engaged in petty pilfering, such as their five children raiding the kitchen and liquor cabinet.

Schneider himself faces charges of embezzlement.


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