10 September 2014
Last week former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen were guilty of corruption, fraud and conspiracy by a Virginia jury. McDonnell was found guilty on 11 of 13 counts while his wife Maureen on 9 counts. The two were accused of accepting $170,000 in cash, loans and gifts from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. Mr. Williams turned prosecution’s star witness to avoid facing charges himself. He took the stand for 15 hours and said that his relationship with the Governor’s family was a business one and that he expected the Governor to back his company’s l tobacco-based anti-inflammatory supplement, Anatabloc.
Jury consisting of seven men and five women spent 18 hours over 3 days without a single question. Bob McDonnell, formerly Attorney General, spent 24 hours on the witness stand over 5 days. McDonnell could have pled guilty to one felony count and could have avoided 14-count corruption charges in court. But he wanted to avoid a jail term so badly that he took a chance to fight the charges in the court.
The McDonnells were married for 38 years are still married but living separately. During his testimony, the former governor described the difficulties in his marriage with Maureen McDonnell, which almost resembled a soap opera.
The ex-governor, a onetime political star was touted as a possible running mate for presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Virginia has very lax ethics laws. Government officials can accept gifts so long as they are disclosed.