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Virginia governor billed taxpayers for sunscreen, dog vitamins -report

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) during their annual meeting in Washington, Feb
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) during their annual meeting in Washington, Feb

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Virginia Governor and possible Republican presidential candidate Bob McDonnell used taxpayer money to pay for sunscreen and dog vitamins, the Washington Post reported on Monday, adding to other improper spending the paper says the FBI is investigating.

McDonnell and his wife also used state employees to run personal errands for their adult children and billed the state for deodorant, shoe repairs and a digestive system "detox cleanse," the newspaper said, citing spending records it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Washington Post previously reported that the FBI and a grand jury were investigating a $15,000 catering bill that a campaign donor paid for McDonnell's daughter's wedding in 2011.

A McDonnell spokesman, Paul Shanks, told Reuters by email the "reimbursement process that is followed today is the same as the one followed in past years" by previous administrations.

Shanks said the Washington Post article "completely misstates the process and misinforms readers as to how it functions." He said the governor's family gets invoices and then reimburses the state for any personal expenses.

The governor has acknowledged that he stayed at the Roanoke, Virginia, home of the campaign donor, Jonnie Williams, and drove Williams' Ferrari sports car back to Richmond.

Williams is the chief executive of Star Scientific Inc, a nutritional supplements maker in the Richmond area.

According to the Washington Post, the FBI is looking into whether the governor's office helped advance the business interests of Williams in exchange for the gifts.

The Post said that about six months after taking office in January 2010, an official who oversees spending at the governor's mansion told the couple that they should not have charged the state for a number of expenses.

The Post said it asked the state for documents showing personal expenses it covered and received 16 sales receipts, most from 2011. The records showed the McDonnells billed the state less than $600, including $300 they repaid, but continued to let taxpayers foot the bill for such items as vitamins, nasal spray and sleep aids, the Washington Post said.

In other allegations about management of the governor's mansion, the family's former chef Todd Schneider has said in court filings that McDonnells engaged in petty pilfering, such as their five children raiding the kitchen and liquor cabinet.

Schneider himself faces charges of embezzlement.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson and Nick Carey; Editing by Scott Malone, Grant McCool and David Gregorio)

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