On Tuesday afternoon, Bob McDonnell and his wife were indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from gifts they had accepted while McDonnell was in office. The former Republican Governor of Virginia, McDonnell just recently left office after serving his single term (Virginia only allows one term for a Governor.) The scandal had been plaguing McDonnell for months to the point that he was a detriment to Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign, his hand-picked successor.
Among the 14 counts that McDonnell and his wife are charged with are three counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of lying to a federal credit union and multiple counts of obtaining property under color of official right. The indictment states that McDonnell and his wife received at least $140,000 worth of gifts, which included a Rolex, expensive designer clothes and golf clubs, among other things.
Obviously, McDonnell denied any wrongdoing whatsoever. After the indictment came down, the former Governor had this to say:
“I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment for which I take full responsibility. However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship.”
McDonnell has insisted that the gifts and ‘loans’ that he received from Johnnie Williams, the CEO of a pharmaceutical company, were only received as a friend, and that Williams received nothing in return for his generosity to the McDonnells. McDonnell has stated that he has repaid Mr. Williams all the money that Williams ‘lent’ to him, as well as gave him back the gifts.
Even if McDonnell can somehow avoid jail time or a guilty verdict, his political career is pretty much toast. At one time, he was looked at as a rising star in the Republican Party, as he was being groomed for a potential run at the Presidency. He easily won election in 2009 as Governor of Virginia when he defeated Creigh Deeds by 18 points. This was after serving as the Attorney General of Virginia.
However, things started getting sour for McDonnell even before the corruption allegations as, in 2012, he advocated for a measure that would require women who were seeking an abortion to submit to a trans-vaginal ultrasound. Many critics saw this as a way for conservatives to shame women if they chose to have an abortion. The bill was changed prior to passage to require an abdominal ultrasound be done prior to an abortion being performed. Regardless, it was still seen as both intrusive and unnecessary and McDonnell started to see his approval ratings plummet.
By the middle of 2013, McDonnell and his family were plagued by allegations of improper spending at the Governor’s mansion. McDonnell paid the state back thousands of dollars to try to put it away, but by that time, the bigger scandal was starting to brew, as the word was out that McDonnell was using his position to straight up accept gifts and money in return for government favors.
Bye bye, Bob. It was nice knowing you. (Not really.)