Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen were arraigned this morning in federal court on 14 counts stemming from the acceptance of illegal gifts and obstruction. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Per CNN sources, McDonnell, who at one time was a rising star in the Republican Party, was given the option to accept a plea deal that would spare his wife of any charges. However, he decided to reject the plea bargain and fight the charges, thus allowing his wife to be completely exposed to the charges as well and potentially looking at prison time.
In plain terms, Bob McDonnell threw his wife under the bus. It is obvious that he is hoping to still salvage something of a political career from all of this. Therefore, he is willing to risk his wife’s freedom in order to roll the dice and take a chance at a trial. Now, it isn’t an open and shut case for federal prosecutors. While there is really no question that McDonnell and his wife received thousands of dollars in gifts and money from Johnnie Williams, who runs a pharmaceutical company, it will be difficult to prove that there was a quid pro quo from the gift-giving.
Still, even if the Feds can’t prove that Williams benefited from lavishing the McDonnells with gifts and money, it seems highly unlikely that McDonnell is going to be able to beat all of the charges. Some of the charges stem from his trying to obstruct or hide the fact that he received anything from Williams. Those will be difficult to slither away from and it seemed like he’ll have to at least face some form of penalty, whether it is jail time, fines, probation or a combination of those. Since Mrs. McDonnell is facing nearly all the same charges, it would appear that she will be looking down the barrel of the same gun.
On another note, this scandal is exposing that the McDonnells were apparently struggling financially, as they’d overextended themselves on credit cards and had a number of properties that had underwater mortgages. Therefore, Mrs. McDonnell was looking towards Williams as something of a financial lifeline who could help provide relief when it came things like clothes or money needed for their daughters’ weddings. The funny and ironic thing here is that Bob McDonnell, on many occasions, stated in interviews that both government and people need to learn to live within their means. On Wednesday’s episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart brilliantly took McDonnell to task for his hypocrisy.
Yep, McDonnell was lecturing people that they all need to learn to live within their means, that government needs to run a budget like a household does, all the while he was living high on the hog despite spending well beyond what he made. So, to keep up with the lifestyle he had gotten used to, he looked for handouts whenever and wherever possible. Meanwhile, at the same time, he is refusing to expand Medicaid for working people and telling poor people that they just need to work harder and pull themselves up by the bootstraps.
Bob McDonnell sure sounds like a swell guy. His governorship will be be most noted for his wanting women to subject themselves to trans-vaginal ultrasounds if they were thinking about getting an abortion and grifting cash and gifts from rich people. And when it all came to a head after he left office, he was more than willing to has his wife go down in flames with him.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).