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Prosecutor: No foul by Va AG for late reports

Thursday - 7/18/2013, 12:40pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. -- Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli won't face charges for failing to promptly report thousands of dollars in personal gifts he had received years earlier on his required state economic interest statements.

Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Herring said Thursday there is no evidence that Cuccinelli committed a crime. Cuccinelli is the Republican candidate for governor.

Cuccinelli omitted more than $13,000 worth of gifts including private jet flights and free vacation lodgings from his required state disclosure forms for a period of four years. He amended his filings from 2009 through 2012 in late April, saying he simply overlooked the gifts earlier.

Cuccinelli asked Herring at the time to examine whether he should be charged with a crime. Deliberately withholding gifts and other financial information on required economic disclosure filings is a misdemeanor.

While the decision clears Cuccinellli of any criminal charges it may not remove the issue from his race for governor.

Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, says the attorney general will be held to a higher standard.

"This is somebody who is in the business of prosecuting people who don't follow the law who is supposed to be an expert in the law."

The gifts came from Jonnie Williams, the same man at the center of an investigation into Governor Bob McDonnell.

"The question of whether this attorney general behaved in an entirely proper way still remains," says Farnsworth.

Cuccinelli's office issued a statement after the decision was announced.

"This review vindicates what I have said all along. There was no legal requirement to refer my own filings to a commonwealth's attorney to review, but I did it because I wanted to be completely transparent with the public."

Cuccinelli is in a tight race for Governor against Democrat Terry McAullife.

The Associated Press and WTOP's Hank Silverberg contributed to this report.