In Afghanistan, McDonnell apologizes for Star Scientific loans

Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WJLA) -- For the first time since issuing a written apology regarding his ties to Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams on Tuesday, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is talking on camera about the scandal. But he is doing so from 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan.

During a visit with Virginia troops in Kabul, Governor McDonnell spoke with ABC7 affiliate WVEC-TV in Hampton Roads. He says he has no plans to resign, as some Democrats have called him to do, and rather has every intention of a strong finish the final five months of his term.

McDonnell says, “I've made plenty of mistakes in my life like most people I know and I’ve learned from every one of those. I'm sorry it's been a distraction to the people of Virginia."

Before leaving for Afghanistan on Tuesday, the Governor put out a statement saying he has paid back more than 120 thousand in loans to Williams, and apologizes for the loans and the gifts, “While they were legal, if they undermined the trust I am deeply sorry that has happened and I take full responsibility for that."

Political science professor Stephen Farnsworth of Mary Washington University says, “The Governor was right to apologize. He should have apologized sooner in my opinion". Farnsworth thinks the apology may improve McDonnell's standing with Virginians, but will not impact the ongoing state and federal investigation into his actions, “I can imagine there are a lot of people who have been stopped by police or questioned by authorities who wish saying sorry would get them out of trouble. It doesn't work like that."

Lindsay Steinberg of Arlington says this about McDonnell’s apology: “When you're apologizing so after the fact it doesn't carry a lot of sincerity".

Vashonta Roach of Alexandria's too little too late: "He's doing it because he has to at this point. He's probably been told by his advisors that if you want to continue a political career you have to come clean about this".

Many political analysts, including Professor Farnsworth, believe McDonnell's political career is over. As for the Federal and State investigation, no word as to when or if any action will be taken against Governor McDonnell.