Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli's belated decision to donate the $18,000 value of the gifts he received from a wealthy GOP donor may not pay off for him in polls, but it could buy a free health clinic some much-needed staffing.
"We're going to use this to ramp up our mental health programs," says Julie Bilodeau, executive director of Richmond's CrossOver Healthcare Ministry. She says a vacant mental health counselor position has gone unfilled. "We're grateful for the funds."
Bilodeau says she received a call from the Cuccinelli campaign late Monday asking if they would be willing to accept a donation.
In a video statement released Tuesday, Cuccinelli said he made the donation to "resolve any questions surrounding the matter concerning Star Scientific. I made a decision to send a check because it's the right thing to do, plain and simple."
Star Scientific, a struggling Henrico-based company, and its CEO, Jonnie Williams, have been in the spotlight following revelations of undisclosed – but legal - donations made to McDonnell that range from more than $100,000 in corporate jet travel to a Rolex watch. The governor has been under investigation to determine whether the gifts were part of a quid pro quo arrangement. Cuccinelli also failed to disclose gifts from Williams, including the use of his vacation home. Richmond's Commonwealth Attorney has cleared Cuccinelli of wrongdoing.
"For those disappointed in this situation or how I handled it, I apologize," Cuccinelli says. "It's been a humbling set of lessons for me."
Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix says he decided to make the donation to CrossOver because, "he'd visited before and liked the facility. And they do work in mental health, which is a passion of Ken's."