On Thursday, former Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, was found guilty of eleven counts of corruption. The Republican ex-governor, who left his office in disgrace less than a year ago, faces decades of prison time, though he will likely not spend a long period of time behind bars. His wife, Maureen McDonnell, was found guilty on eight corruption charges. The McDonnells were spared a guilty verdict on falsifying loan documents. The charges and ultimate conviction on corruption stemmed from hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts, vacation and loans provided to the couple by a Virginia businessman in exchange for political favors from the governor’s office.
Sentencing is scheduled for January 6th, 2015. Both McDonnells apparently sobbed in the courtroom after the verdict was handed down. It seems as if the jury was making a point that political corruption and selling access to public offices and elected officials needs to stop. McDonnell, who was already the first Governor of Virginia to be charged with a crime while in office, become the first person to hold the governor’s office in Virginia to be convicted of a crime.
The case itself was not only humiliating for the McDonnells due to the issues surrounding corruption, but also due to the embarrassing details brought forth regarding the couple’s marriage and Mrs. McDonnell’s apparent attraction to Jonnie Williams, Sr., the businessman who provided the couple with lavish gifts and cash. The defense tried to use the couple’s strained relationship as a way to build sympathy for both of them and provide some type of excuse for their behavior. In the end, the jury didn’t buy it, and they were convicted of most of the charges levied against them.
It will be interesting to see what type of sentence both of them receive in January. Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison over his extortion conviction regarding his attempts to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after Obama’s Presidential election victory. He is required to serve at least 12 years of that sentence. I doubt the McDonnells will get nearly that harsh of a sentence as in comparison their crimes don’t seem nearly as extreme as the former Illinois Governor. However, it seems likely that they will serve at least some time in prison. I don’t think there is any way they can get out of wearing an orange jumpsuit.
A message was sent to corrupt politicians on Thursday. Your office is not for sale, and if you are caught, you will pay.