Embattled Va. gov. wraps up 7-day legacy tour in Leesburg

Gov. Bob McDonnell fires a replica of a Civil War cannon at Balls Bluff State Park Thursday. He visited the battlefield as part of a seven-day, 22-stop legacy tour. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

LEESBURG, Va. – Under fire for the gift and loan scandal, Virginia’s embattled governor has been touring the state touting the accomplishments of his administration over the last three and half years.

His last day of the tour included stops in Alexandria and Fairfax where he talked about education reforms enacted during his term and in Leesburg where he fired off a replica Civil War cannon and announced 13 grants to help preserve Civil War Battlefields throughout the state.

The seven-day tour is similar to trips made by other term-limited Virginia governors near the end of their four years.

But for McDonnell, the tour represented a chance to divert attention from the loan and gift scandal that has dogged him over the last few months.

As he talked with reporters after the Leesburg event, McDonnell said he’s not thinking about what his legacy might be nor how the gift and loan scandal might outshine it in the end.

“I think people are forgiving and I’ve made an apology for the distraction that has caused the people of Virginia,” McDonnell said of the scandal.

McDonnell said he’d rather talk about the state’s stable finances or education policy achievements, like increasing enrollment for in-state students at Virginia universities.

The governor has already paid back the loans and returned the gifts he received from businessman Jonnie Williams and that were at the center of the controversy during the last several months.

But he still faces both a state and federal investigation on the gifts and loans. And he still has four and a half months left to lead the commonwealth.

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