McDonnell leading equity group that formed just before scandals broke

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says the formation of a racial reconciliation group he leads was "divine providence," as it began just weeks before a racist photograph on Gov. Ralph Northam's yearbook page surfaced.

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell answers a reporters questions during an interview on the grounds of the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The Republican tells The Richmond Times-Dispatch that Northam attended the Virginians for Reconciliation meeting Wednesday and said he planned to be a leader and appoint an adviser on race.

The group consists of policymakers and other influential figures who want to change inequitable practices and policies.

McDonnell said there was almost no press when the group held its first event Jan. 16, so current events have provided "a truly historic opportunity."

McDonnell, who was convicted on corruption charges that were later overturned, has publicly supported Northam, saying he knows what it's like to govern under pressure.

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