Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife indicted on federal corruption charges

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell arrives to make a statement followed by his wife, Maureen, in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on corruption charges after a monthslong federal investigation into gifts the Republican received from a political donor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Enlarge Image

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell arrives to make a statement followed by his wife, Maureen, in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on corruption charges after a monthslong federal investigation into gifts the Republican received from a political donor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. - Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, once viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party, and his wife were indicted Tuesday on federal corruption charges accusing the couple of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in loans, shopping sprees, money for their daughter's wedding — and even a joyride in a Ferrari — from the owner of a company that makes health supplements.

The 14-count indictment portrays the former governor as deeply entrenched in credit card debt even before he took office and willing to accept lavish gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, who hoped the first couple's endorsement for his products would yield big profits for his company.

McDonnell appeared Tuesday night at a hastily called news conference in Richmond to strongly deny any wrongdoing and denounce what he said was an "unjust overreach" by federal prosecutors.

"I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal friendship and his generosity," said McDonnell, who was flanked by his wife, daughter and son-in-law as he read from prepared remarks.

McDonnell vowed to "use every available resource and advocate" to fight the charges.

While still in office, McDonnell apologized for accepting the gifts and repaid thousands to Williams. Limited to a single term by state law, McDonnell left the executive mansion earlier this month in disgrace, his approval numbers low and his political future in tatters. At one time, McDonnell had been considered a possible vice-presidential running mate for Mitt Romney, and the governor's seat has opened the door to higher office since Thomas Jefferson held the post from 1779 to 1781. McDonnell delivered the 2010 Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address, and became chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2011.

Twelve of the counts are punishable by up to 20 years in prison each, and two are punishable up to 30 years. Fines can range from $250,000 to $1 million.

McDonnell's attorneys filed a strongly worded motion Tuesday evening seeking the instructions that were given to the grand jury and recordings of prosecutors' statements to the grand jury about the legal validity of the charges. The motion says the government's case is "built largely from immunized testimony purchased with under-the-table promises to a key witness who would otherwise face criminal liability and massive financial penalties."

It continues: "The federal government's decision to use these deceitful tactics in order to prosecute a popular and successful Republican Governor immediately upon leaving office is disgraceful, violates basic principles of justice, and is contemptuous of the citizens of Virginia who elected him."

The 43-page indictment portrays a cozy relationship between the McDonnells and Williams that began even before he took office, with many of their interactions initiated by Maureen McDonnell. In 2009, just before the governor's inauguration, Maureen McDonnell wrote to a senior staffer for her husband, saying the couple was broke and had thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

The indictment says Maureen McDonnell cut a deal with Williams about two years later: if he bought her dresses and accessories for her daughter's wedding and the couple's anniversary, she would make sure he had a prime seat next to her husband at a political event in New York City. The indictment also details a $50,000 loan Williams made to the McDonnells in May 2011, along with $15,000 for their daughter's wedding.

The indictment also says the McDonnells enjoyed a lavish vacation at Williams' multimillion-dollar home on Smith Mountain Lake in July 2011, which included free reign over Williams' personal Ferrari and a boat rented just for the occasion. For months afterward, Maureen McDonnell frequently appeared at events held by Star Scientific and discussed the company's virtues.

___

Associated Press writers Steve Szkotak and Alan Suderman in Richmond and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Submit a Random Act of Kindness
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media