Former GOP Star Governor Bob McDonnell Indicted on Corruption Charges
Former Virginia Governor and Republican rising star Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, have been indicted on federal corruption charges and face 14 felony counts after allegedly illegally accepting gifts from prominent business owner Jonnie Williams. The indictment comes just two weeks after the Governor left office, an initially promising tenure that ended engulfed in a federal investigation.
According to the indictment, McDonnell and his wife received more than $135,000 directly from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of Star Scientific. Williams has since resigned. The McDonnells also received golf outings and gifts. In return, the company received help promoting the company’s struggling dietary supplement, Anatabloc.
The indictment also charges them with lying on loan applications that required them to declare their debts.
In convicted, the couple faces a potential long prison term and fines over $1 million.
Prior to the investigation, which began nine months before he left office, McDonnell had been a rising star in the Republican Party after winning the 2009 Virginia Gubernatorial race in a landslide, defeating Democrat Creigh Deeds by 17 points. His 59 percent of the vote was the highest percentage any candidate for governor had received since 1961. He has since been surpassed by Chris Christie, who earned 60.3 percent of the vote in the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election. He was on Mitt Romney’s short list for running mate in 2012 and even considered an early contender for the 2016 Republican nomination.
The charges include 1 count of conspiracy to commit honest-services fraud, 3 counts of honest-services wire fraud, 1 count of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right, 6 counts of obtaining property under color of official right, 1 count of making false statements to a credit union, 1 count of making false statement to a financial institution, and 1 count of obstruction of an official proceeding.
The indictment states that, between April 2011 and March 2013, the McDonnells “participated in a scheme to use the former governor’s official position to enrich themselves and their family members by soliciting and obtaining payments, loans gifts and other things of value from Star Scientific, a Virginia-based corporation and J.W. (Jonnie Williams)”
“The McDonnells obtained the things of value in exchange for the former governor performing official actions on an as-needed basis to legitimize, promote and obtain research studies for Anatabloc.”
The McDonnells “attempted to conceal the things of value received from J.W. and Star to hide the nature and scope of their dealings with J.W. from the citizens of Virginia, by … routing things of value from family members and corporate entities controlled by the former governor to avoid annual disclosure requirements.”
Bob McDonnell released a statement, saying “My fellow Virginians, earlier today federal prosecutors notified my attorneys that they have filed criminal charges against me and my wife Maureen, alleging that we violated federal law by accepting gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of Star Scientific.
“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.
“I never promised – and Mr. Williams and his company never received – any government benefit of any kind from me or my administration. We did not violate the law, and I will use every available resource and advocate I have for as long as it takes to fight these false allegations, and to prevail against this unjust overreach of the federal government.”