McDonnells Go Down
FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR, WIFE CONVICTED ON FEDERAL CORRUPTION CHARGES
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was found guilty of eleven counts of public corruption related to gifts he received from one of his top political donors. Meanwhile his wife, former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell, was found guilty of eight counts of public corruption, including an obstruction of justice charge.
The couple could face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines as a result of their convictions.
The former governor wept as the verdicts were announced.
The McDonnells were found guilty of accepting more than $165,000 worth of gifts – including shopping sprees, vacations, a Rolex watch (for him) and catering costs at their daughter’s wedding. In exchange for these gifts, McDonnell used the power of the governor’s office to advance the business interests of Jonnie Williams, CEO of a company specializing in dietary supplements.
Williams first began assisting McDonnell in March of 2009 – letting him travel on his company’s corporate jet. That November McDonnell – then Virginia’s attorney general – defeated Creigh Deeds to become the state’s 71st governor.
After McDonnell’s election, the ties with Williams deepened. He took Maureen McDonnell on a $19,000 shopping spree in New York, then gave her a $50,000 loan. Meanwhile Bob McDonnell set up meetings for Williams and hosted a luncheon at the governor’s office to help him launch a new product.
Making the trial even more noteworthy? The McDonnells’ defense – which hinged on their “broken” marriage and the fact Maureen McDonnell was romantically drawn to Williams. According to defense attorneys, the couple couldn’t have possibly conspired because they were living apart from one another.
Needless to say, the jury didn’t buy that …
Sentencing for the McDonnells will be in January. In the meantime, Democrats across the country made political hay over the convictions.
South Carolina Democrats released a picture of McDonnell with incumbent “Republican” Nikki Haley – who has had more than her fair share of ethics issues.
“South Carolinians are still waiting for Nikki Haley to stand up to these corrupt politicians and pledge not to welcome them to our state,” a release from the party stated. “But then, praising indicted allies is exactly what you’d expect from the governor who listed fines against her from the Ethics Commission as a ‘business expense’ and regards her repeated ethical infractions as just the cost of doing business.”