12 INVESTIGATES: Political scandal at the Executive Mansion

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A judge will hear arguments Thursday on whether state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli can remove his office from a case that's become a political scandal.

The FBI is even asking questions, and it all started with a cook in the kitchen.

There hasn't even been a hearing, but the back and forth of court documents really illustrates the lives of the people at the Executive Mansion.

Todd Schneider claims he's a whistle blower and the charges against him are retaliation. State Police have charged the ex-chef with four counts of embezzling property from the 200-year-old Executive Mansion.

In court documents, lawyers are already offering up tidbits: accusing the governor's sons of taking Gatorade and protein powder from the mansion to their college dorms. Lawyers accuse one of the governor's daughters of taking booze for a private party. There are even accusations that the governor's wife gave away pots and pans.

"Nobody has really tried like the lawyers for ex-chef are going to try, to sort of pull the cover back from a lot of the things that go on at the mansion," said local attorney and political analyst Paul Goldman. He helped run Doug Wilder's historic campaign for governor. He even got married inside the executive mansion.

"I mean, when the Indians bring the turkey (at Thanksgiving) nobody's asking what happened to the bones and the legs. You have a lot of power-people over to the mansion. The governor is wining and dinning, cutting some political deals."

He says it goes on in every administration: the booze, food, catering and parties.

"Yes, it's public money, and it's appropriated, but that's hallowed ground. Everybody knows that you stay out of governor's mansion," said Goldman.

He says the case is piercing the privacy of the first family. It's already lead to scandal.

The owner of Star Scientific paid $15,000 for the catering at the wedding for McDonnell's daughter - which has turned into a saga over gift-giving to the Governor and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

"Cuccinelli's office has already said that they don't want the case to become politicized. That's your first indication that it's already become politicized," said NBC12 political reporter Ryan Nobles.

Cuccinelli now wants off the case in court, citing a conflict of interest.

"The lawyers for the chef want the A.G. to spell out chapter and verse what is the conflict of interest. Well, the conflict of interest is pretty obvious. It's that Ken Cuccinelli's running for governor."

Goldman questions why the Governor and Attorney General would let this case get this far.

"The up side is what? You've put an ex-chef away for doing what? Taking some frankfurters? Compared to a legacy killer?" said Goldman.

The governor has consistently declined to comment about specifics because of the criminal case against the chef, but he did say this week Star Scientific and its owner received no special treatment from him.

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