There were personal gifts, as well. On his financial disclosure forms, McDonnell said he had received more than $9,600 worth of food, lodging, transportation and entertainment from the company and from Williams in 2011 and 2012.
Elected officials in Virginia are allowed to accept gifts, provided they disclose those worth more than $50. Gifts to family members don’t have to be disclosed, nor do gifts from a relative or “personal friend.”
The food at McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding was provided by Seasonings Fine Catering and Event Planning, a Richmond company owned by Todd Schneider, whom the McDonnells hired to serve as the mansion’s executive chef in 2010. Schneider, a well-known Richmond personality who had trained with Martha Stewart, left his mansion job in 2011 amid a state police investigation into alleged improprieties involving kitchen operations. He was recently indicted on four embezzlement charges. He declined to comment through his attorney.
Kilgore said Williams wanted to make sure that the wedding “day was special.”
“It’s not out of the ordinary for Jonnie to be a generous person.”
At the time of the wedding, a McDonnell spokesman said the family had paid for the event. But Caldwell now says that McDonnell’s daughter and her fiance decided to pay for the wedding expenses and that the gift from Williams helped them cover much of the cost of food.
He said McDonnell doesn't know whether other wedding expenses were paid through gifts to the couple.
In financial filings, Star Scientific has made clear that it needs Anatabloc to be a success.
This month, the company reported that it had lost $22.9 million in 2012, the 10th consecutive year Star had lost money. The company slashed its workforce last year, part of a decision to end production of all tobacco products and focus exclusively on dietary supplements.
“Our future prospects, therefore, are dependent on the expanded distribution and consumer acceptance of our dietary supplement products and cosmetic product,” the company said in its 2012 annual report.
Star also has been fighting skeptics’ claims that the science behind Anatabloc is overstated. On Monday, a Star Scientific investor filed suit in federal court in Richmond, alleging that the company misled stock holders about Anatabloc’s promise.
Star officials declined to comment for this article, but the company, in a statement to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, said it stands by the product and that the lawsuit is without merit.
Anatabloc combines anatabine with vitamins A and D3 to create a supplement that inhibits inflammation, according to its Web site. But the company has also suggested that the product could be useful in combating other ailments, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Heather M. Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association, called the role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s an “active area of investigation.”
But, she added, “there really is no data to support this product at this time.”
Because it is a dietary supplement and not a drug, it is not regulated by the FDA.
Some doctors say Anatabloc has promise. Clore, the VCU professor who attended the mansion event, said he was interested in doing research on the product.
“I’m a diabetes person,” Clore said. “The reason I was reading up on it is, there’s a lot of interest in inflammation as a major player in complications of diabetes. Compounds people use now . . . like aspirin or ibuprofen, decrease inflammation, which may, in turn, decrease risk of complication.”
Clore had heard about work being done on anatabine by a fellow endocrinologist, Paul Ladenson of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. A Star Scientific news release in January quoted Ladenson as touting the results of a “rigorously conducted, placebo-controlled, double blind trial.”
The release did not say where the study was done. But Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said that the study had not been conducted at the medical school and that none of its researchers was involved. Ladenson is a consultant for Star’s wholly owned subsidiary, Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals, and Hoppe said he violated Hopkins’s policy by providing a quotation for the news release without having it approved by the school.
Ladenson did not respond to requests for comment.
As Star Scientific struggles with questions about the science, the company is facing a new challenge: a federal investigation.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia declined to comment about the company. But in an annual report filed this month, Star Scientific said it received subpoenas from the U.S. attorney’s office in January and February as part of an investigation thought to be focused on transactions involving the company’s securities.
Star disclosed the existence of the investigation because it is a risk factor that could affect the company’s chances of success. The company said it believed the investigation to be “principally focused” on “private placements,” stock trades offered to a small group of interested investors, sometimes at a discount, rather than on the open market.
Kilgore declined to comment about the investigation.
Asked whether McDonnell, his wife or any other member of the administration has been interviewed about their relationships with Star Scientific and Williams, Caldwell said it would be inappropriate to comment, given the publicly disclosed federal investigation into the company.
Alice R. Crites and Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.