By Joe Beck
William Holtzman, CEO of Holtzman Oil Corp. in Mount Jackson, gave $10,000 in recent months to the legal defense fund of former Gov. Robert F. McDonnell in McDonnell's fight against federal corruption charges.
Holtzman's contribution is among the eight largest received by the fund, according to a second quarter funding report posted online by the Virginia Public Access project.
The nonprofit Washington, D.C.-based Restoration Fund led by Virginia Beach attorney Stanley Baldwin was formed to help McDonnell pay for what Baldwin has called potentially ruinous legal expenses. McDonnell and his wife Maureen are scheduled to go on trial July 28 in U.S. District Court in Richmond.
Federal prosecutors accuse the McDonnells of accepting illegal gifts, luxury vacations and large homes from Jonnie R. Williams, the chief executive for Star Scientific, a dietary supplement company. Some of Robert McDonnell allies have cited Maureen McDonnell's acceptance of the gifts as the main source of the scandal and sought to downplay her husband's role in the case.
Holtzman is one of six people or businesses to contribute $10,000 each to the Restoration Fund. The others include 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Holtzman said he gave the money out of loyalty to a friend.
"I felt he has been a friend for a long time, and I just felt you don't abandon your friends when they're down," Holtzman said of McDonnell.
"I felt Bob did a tremendous job as governor," Holtzman added. "There are so many great things he did as governor, and this is one stupid error he made in not reporting the gifts his wife got. Had he not made that mistake, his political career would have been phenomenal."
Holtzman said he didn't want to comment on McDonnell's guilt or innocence, but added: "I think there's a darn good possibility he's going to jail. Those are the consequences of what he did."
Holtzman said he donated the money after "I was talked to by a couple of senators in the Republican Party."
Holtzman quickly added that his daughter, Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, was not among those who had talked to him about supporting McDonnell's legal defense fund.
Vogel's name does not appear on the list of donors to the Restoration Fund.
"I think she's very disappointed in what happened," Holtzman said of Vogel.
The Virginia Public Access Project listed a total of $92,894 received by the Restoration fund from April 1 to June 30. Legal expenses during the same period were $21,470.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org