NORFOLK--Governor Bob McDonnell took steps to repair his image this week in the wake of a scandal involving thousands of dollars and lavish gifts he accepted from a wealthy political donor.
Jonnie Williams, CEO of medical supplement maker Star Scientific, made two loans to a company co-owned by McDonnell and to McDonnell's wife totaling more than $120,000.
News of those gifts surfaced after McDonnell came under fire for accepting a Rolex watch, free vacations and other luxury items from Williams.
On Tuesday, McDonnell's office announced that the governor wrote Williams a check to cover the two loans with interest.
McDonnell addressed the repayment of those loans in an exclusive interview with 13News Now from Afghanistan Wednesday.
"To the degree that things that my family did, or that I did, in any way undermined that trust, because of either loans or gifts, while they were legal, if they undermined that trust, I am deeply, deeply sorry that that has happened and take responsibility for that," McDonnell said.
The governor pointed to a long list of accomplishments during his time as governor and said he hoped this scandal doesn't overshadow his time as governor.
Local political analyst and longtime political science professor Dr. Chuck Dunn says it may be too late for McDonnell to repair his reputation.
"It is too little, too late," Dunn said. "The high priests of political punditry have already pronounced last rites on the governor's political career."
Dunn said the time for McDonnell to address the controversy was months ago, as news of the expensive gifts and cash were first leaking out.
"It looks like, well, I got my hand caught in the cookie jar and, so, I'm going to quickly apologize," Dunn said.
13News Now asked Governor McDonnell if he would re-think accepting the gifts giving the chance to change history. McDonnell called the controversy a learning experience.
"I've made plenty of mistakes in my life, like plenty of people that I know, and I've learned from every one of those and tried to take the knowledge that I gained and go on to be a better leader," McDonnell said.