21 August 2014
Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are charged with accepting $165,000 in gifts and loans from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., then CEO of Star Scientific, in exchange for boosting a dietary supplement that Star produced. Bob McDonnell was sworn into office on Jan. 16, 2010 as the 71st governor of Virginia, On Wednesday he became the first Virginia governor to defend himself in a corruption case, in a federal courthouse.
Bob McDonnell was a state delegate, then attorney general and finally governor.
Defence lawyers argued in Judge James R. Spencer’s seventh-floor courtroom at the U.S. District Court that McDonnell’s marriage was in such deep trouble that they could not have conspired to commit crimes together and that the first lady had a crush on Williams, who manipulated her.
Bob McDonnell testified that he did not give any special treatment, only “mere routine, basic access to government”. No state funds or appointments were given to Star Scientific.
Other witnesses and former Maureen McDonnell aides have testified that she was miserable as first lady. She did not like public speaking and the loss of privacy. She was prone to angry outbursts after McDonnell was elected governor.
James Burke, a management consultant retained to help Maureen McDonnell’s unhappiness, said that the possibility of her moving to the couple’s home in suburban Richmond was briefly discussed but nothing came of it. Burke also said he and a co-worker met privately with Bob McDonnell and recommended counselling for his wife for anxiety and depression. McDonnell rejected the idea, saying that he would try to spend more time with his wife and that would solve her problem.
During his testimony the former governor said the Executive Mansion had some 300 events with 25,000 guests during his term, which lasted from January 2010 to January 2014. He said it was normal to add names to guest lists for events at the mansion. The governor would attend an event where host gave checks to the state.