Robert Gibbs, former adviser to President Barack Obama, called on embattled Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to resign Monday amid an ethics scandal and make room for a "caretaker" governor until the 2013 election.
"I think at some point, you begin to really and truly ask the question, that is it time for Gov. McDonnell to step aside, honestly? We’ve had this drip, drip, drip of embarrassing allegations," Gibbs said on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe." "And I say embarrassing, I don’t know if $120,000 in unreported loans, that should be probably worth larger than embarrassment on this."
"We have an election coming up, and maybe it’s time for a caretaker governor until we get to that election," Gibbs added.
McDonnell has been at the center of an FBI probe over gifts he and his family received from Jonnie Williams, CEO of Star Scientific and a prominent political donor. The Washington Post reported that Williams gave $70,000 to a corporation owned by McDonnell and his sister. Separately, the governor's wife received $15,000 from Williams for a shopping spree at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.
The activity is legal under Virginia's campaign finance laws, but unusual given the vast amount of spending. "The Virginia Legislature should close that loophole, uh, yesterday," Gibbs said.
The exchanges have prompted an investigation by state and federal investigators into the relationship between Williams and the McDonnell family, as well as the promotion of a nutritional supplement made by Williams' company by Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell.
Last week, Gov. McDonnell released a statement in which he apologized and confirmed that he had repaid $124,000 in loans to Williams. He did not address the gifts his family received and later told NBC Washington he had no plans to step down.
"I'm not going anywhere. I love this job ... there has been no consideration of that," McDonnell said.
McDonnell's approval rating has nonetheless taken a hit -- the governor's poll numbers dropped 12 percentage points over the last two months, according to a recent Public Policy Polling survey.