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Friday, October 28, 2016

Bob McDonnell Maureen McDonnell

After leaving office earlier this month, former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell (R) has moved on to a much hotter seat: The Republican politician is now facing a 14-count felony indictment, two decades in jail, and thousands of dollars in fines.

And he is not going down alone; McDonnell’s wife, Maureen, is included in the 43-page federal indictment that threatens to land them both in jail. It contains a number of revealing details highlighting just how close the McDonnells were to former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams until 2013.

According to the indictment, McDonnell first met Williams in 2009 to ask if he could use the former CEO’s private plane for his gubernatorial campaign. McDonnell later asked, per the request of his wife, that Williams cover the cost of Mrs. McDonnell’s dress for the governor’s inaugural address.

One of McDonnell’s senior aides warned the first lady that it was not a good idea.

She shot back in an email on December 29, 2009: “I need answers and Bob is screaming about the thousands I’m charging up in credit card debt. We are broke, have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt already, and this Inaugural is killing us!! I need answers and I need help, and I need to get this done.”

Just days later, Mrs. McDonnell told Williams she would take a “rain check” on the dress.

The rest was history.

Since 2010, the McDonnells have allegedly taken over $100,000 worth of gifts. But more shocking than the gifts the pair received over the years are the details concerning their financial woes and terrible cover-ups.

Read on to learn five of the juiciest details from the indictment.

Photo: Virginia Guard Public Affairs via Flickr

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  • sigrid28

    Am I the only one who finds this piling on with respect to the McDonnells disingenuous? Thanks to spoiled politicians who really are rich, like the Romneys, so wealthy that losing a presidential election barely phases them, and thanks as well to their wealthy counterparts on Wall Street–all people much, much richer than the McDonnells, who resemble people in the dwindling middle class more than they do the country club set in the 1%–we’ve been reduced to a nation of debtors swimming in debt, parents whose personal worth has been demolished by bankruptcy and foreclosure, whose children are accumulating debt just by going to college, the kind of debt that can never be eliminated through bankruptcy and just grows and grows thanks to penalties–following them to the grave. This isn’t to excuse what the governor of Virginia and his wife did, but to suggest that the alternative to a reality series called “Governors Going for Broke” is “Lives of the Rich and Famous.” Now that all members of Congress belong to the Millionaires Club, you have to ask yourself, Is that any way to run a state or a country?

    • Jimmy Agler

      I see some of your point,but it also sounds a bit like saying “well I only took 100k, in illegal stuff, he took 1M.” Illegal is still illegal. While those in congress are unabashed in their corruption, should we ignore it until they reach that level?

      • sigrid28

        Thanks for your reply. I did not mean to imply that Americans among the upper 1% or 2% in this economy became so through corruption: many (in fact, most) inherited their wealth or earned it, on Wall Street, for example.

        Nor do I argue above that wealthy members of Congress are corrupt. I do think they are out of touch with the 98% of Americans still struggling to overcome the dire effects the Great Recession.

        For example, rich Republicans elected to Congress want to reduce aide to the 98% who are struggling in an economy brought to a standstill in 2007-2008 by Wall Street; and they say this must be done to reduce the national debt, which is not true, because it is dwindling and does not exceed the debt the country has sustained without a crisis in better times: like a family with an adequate income that can sustain a mortgage and a car loan at the same time. So Republicans in the upper 1% and 2% exaggerate the bad effect of a normal debt load, as an excuse to block legislation that would alleviate growing poverty among the 98% of Americans still struggling in the Great Recession. Charitably, we might call them out of touch. To many of us, struggling as have the McDonnells–though not on such a dramatic scale–Republicans in Congress seem callous.

        The same might be said of governors and red state legislatures, especially since the Republican party seems determined to look to the ranks of governors to select its nominee for president in 2016. Like you, I call for more serious scrutiny of candidates at every level.

        • CPAinNewYork

          Regarding your second paragraph: I believe that the wealthy are corrupt, whether they’re in Congress or some other governing body or not.

          • sigrid28

            I understand you. Perhaps, you are sorry to be right. To agree with you, I must expand the definition of corruption to include us all–though I am not talking about “CSI.” Leaning very far left, I would be tempted to adopt the biblical interpretation expressed in this famous passage from Handel’s “Messiah”:

            “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”
            (I Corinthians 15: 51-52)

            “The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
            For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality.”
            (I Corinthians 15: 52-53)

          • CPAinNewYork

            The rich and powerful. if not checked, will take all that they can, leaving little or nothing for the classes with less income. To accomplish that goal, they will subvert the government through bribery. I consider political contributions to be bribery. The tendency of the American rich to do this is obvious.

            Consequently, I consider the American rich to be corrupt. It should be the function of a democratic government to ensure continued democracy through the preservation of the middle class. The American rich are determined to destroy the American middle class. Therefore, the rich must be restrained by the proper exercise of law. If they are not restrained, then the middle class and democracy will disappear and violent revolution will ensue.

            I believe that we are headed for a violent revolution, because the avaricious American rich are winning and show no signs of moderating their behavior.

          • sigrid28

            I hope you somewhat overstate your point in order to make it clear. Trying to say things clearly is a good thing. Sometimes, to do this my child reaches for easy generalizations, and that can make him very unhappy. To you I would say, perhaps not all rich and powerful people will take all they can. Perhaps some corrupt politicians will be punished and forced to pay for their crimes. Maybe we will have a mini-revolution rather than a violent one, bringing about a change that will restore civilization rather than destroy it. I try to help my son envision excellent outcomes rather than dwelling exclusively on the worst ones.

          • CPAinNewYork

            In this case, I believe what I see and what I see is the rich and powerful grabbing all they can. Elitist scumbags like Mitt Romney and his family, the Koch brothers, the Tea Party and the Christian right are little more than fascists. They are of the same ilk that constituted the aristocracy in Czarist Russia and monarchist France.

            However, if you choose to see good in most if not all people, then indulge your fantasy. The polyanna approach to viewing events doesn’t hold any allure for me.

      • Jim Myers

        When Martha Stewart received 2 years for insider trading, she took her lumps and decided not to contest the charges and her sentence.

        She has bigger balls than all the politicians who think that they deserve special treatment just because of who they are and who they rub shoulders with.

        And, she “only” made about $60,000 because of her insider information.

        Martha Stewart is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and briefly sat on the board of directors for the New York Stock Exchange.

        She could have easily outspent the government prosecutors who pressed for the indictment. At the very least, she would probably have been able to delay the proceedings for years, and settle for a fine and/or probation.

        So, when any politician gets caught with their hands in the cookie jar, then lies and tries to cover it up, I have no sympathy for them.

        Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent or anything else, I feel the same way.

        • CPAinNewYork

          Did Martha Stewart go to jail for insider trading or perjury? I don’t think that too many people are prosecuted for insider trading. To do that would subject almost all of Wall Street to prosecution.

          • Jim Myers

            She had information about a company she owned stock in. When she dumped it, the value of her shares tanked the next day.

            I am not sure about the amount it saved her, but I think it was in the range of about $40,000 to $60,000. (It ha been a few years, and I am not sure the $60,000 figure I used before was totally accurate. My bad.)

            That was insider trading, and I am fairly sure that is the crime she was prosecuted for.

            She was probably singled out because of her public image, and the fact that the trade, small by wall street standards, happened the day before the stock went into the crapper.

            She may also have been outed by one of the traders or someone else who was caught up in the investigation.

            Since she had briefly sat on the board of directors for the New York Stock Exchange, she was known as a sophisticated investor, not a “mom and pop” investor.

            High profile image, substantial wealth, iron clad case, this was a prosecutors dream come true.

      • idamag

        My latest Time shows the McDonnells came right out and asked for things from Williams. She asked for a designer gown. They asked him to pay the caterers at their daughter’s wedding. They accepted vacations. You can bet Williams was expecting something in return.

    • Bill Thompson

      I am inclined to believe as you do but only to a certain point the chain of events as stated and if true would suggest this man has lost control of his personal life. As for myself if I were in a similar situation and in the position of a governor my personal life and any indication of wrongdoing would be my number one priority. In the end the chain of events and how they unfolded leads me to believe he felt he was one of the Untouchables.

      • sigrid28

        Agreed. Odd how “untouchable” in the U.S. has come to have the precise opposite meaning of the word as it is used in India. If you look at it like that, this story is rather Dickensian. The McDonnells’s pursuit of the status of untouchables, as erstaz members of the elite–a status that may be required of everyone elected to high office in the U.S.–does not elevate them but instead threatens to drive them into the ranks of the other untouchable group in our culture, prisoners so debased they are denied even the right to vote. They appear to have traded their personal lives for celebrity status, which has little to do with the rest of Americans who found themselves suddenly unemployed and unable to find work, facing bankruptcy and foreclosure. Your point is well taken.

    • idamag

      Since bribery is a serious offense, I think it should be given attention. We don’t want our politicians bought and paid for.

  • johninPCFL

    McDonnell’s latest mea-culpa is that he has returned all of the gifts and paid back the loans. The rationalle for the loans in the first place was their dire financial position, so it begs the question: where did the loan payback money come from? Also, I am really amazed that Louis Vuitton and Bergdorf have a returns policy so liberal that they will accept clothing that has been worn for two years. Finally, I guess Rolex could polish out the “71st Governor” inscripion, but they absolutely don’t accept merchandise returns. Does it count as “returned” if you sell it on eBay or give it to your attorney as his retainer?