Seven days into their corruption trial, former Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife, Maureen, have been portrayed as venal and grasping, eager to star in their own episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” while struggling to get by on the governor’s income as a public servant.
VIRGINIA LAW is the real adversary of the prosecutors in the graft case against Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen. Ethics laws at the time this soap opera started developing didn’t put a cap on the gifts a public official could accept. The bad news for Bob McDonnell is that there are emails that reveal after he got something sweet from Williams he often did something in return.
Prosecutors might not have a smoking gun. But they do have a trove of emails, texts and financial records they are using to build a case against the McDonnells on circumstantial evidence. Testimony last week established that the evening after Mr. McDonnell drove Mr. Williams’s Ferrari home from a vacation at a luxurious home the businessman owned, the governor emailed a cabinet secretary to send an aide the next day to meet with Mr. Williams and Ms. McDonnell.
On Feb. 17, 2012, just six minutes after Mr. McDonnell emailed Mr. Williams about the details of a loan he had requested, he sent a note telling an aide that he wanted to discuss Mr. Williams’s desire to set up studies at state universities, which Mr. Williams hoped would give credibility to Anatabloc, testimony showed.
Maureen McDonnell is being portrayed as the lonely wife who was desperately emotional and longing to matter to a man. Accepting a $20,000 shopping spree to New York City wasn’t about some scheme, it was all about wanting to feel loved. This is as pathetic a midlife crisis example as you’re ever going to read about. Complete with 20th century notions of a husband checking out on his marriage, while the wife feels she has no recourse but to stay, because of her husband’s political career. That is until a wealthy man shows up who wants something from her husband, making himself available to Maureen who uses him to fill a void she’s chosen to accept.
The question this graft and corruption trial revolves around is whether the $160,000 cash and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. were payment for favors then Gov. McDonnell did using his office to get them done.
The evidence has been a parade of embarrassments.
A grinning Mr. McDonnell at the wheel of a white Ferrari belonging to a Virginia businessman who is the government’s key witness. Oscar de la Renta dresses for Ms. McDonnell, golf outings at $400 a round and a $5,000 Cognac poured for the governor.
“Even if it’s something you might have done anyway, if in fact you’re doing it because someone paid you and that’s your understanding, that’s a crime,” said Randall D. Eliason, a former chief of the government corruption unit in the United States attorney’s office in Washington.