Not only did Governor McDonnell do the opposite of what he preached, he was too dumb to cash-in the legal way
Anatabloc is an anti-inflammatory support product made from tobacco. It is sold by a company called Star Scientific Inc. Their CEO and snake oil salesman, Jonnie Williams, took down Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, over $177,000 in gifts and cash.
Yesterday, a Virginia jury found both Bob and Maureen McDonnell guilty of 11 and eight counts respectively of corruption and obstruction of justice. Each count carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Bob McDonnell and Jonnie Williams’ relationship goes back at least to 2009. Williams, who had several failed companies and owed fines to the SEC since the 1980s, started donating money to Virginia politicians.
In October of that year, Williams let Gov. McDonnell use his plane to fly to a political event. During the flight, Williams told McDonnell that his “company needs government help.” In November, McDonnell had the Department of Health and Human Services sit down with Williams to push his products.
A litany of promotional favors were then performed by the McDonnells to promote Anatabloc. Everything from setting up appointments with government officials to Maureen McDonnell promoting it at physician seminars and other events.
The bottom fell through when Maureen O’Donnell borrowed $50,000 from Williams and did not disclose it on real estate finance forms. A fired chef from the Governor’s mansion tipped off Federal and State authorities and the questioning began.
The New York Post soon got wind of the story and followed the investigation until the indictment. Jonnie Williams was contacted by law enforcement, given immunity, and told investigators everything he had done for the McDonnell’s over the years; favor, loans and letting the McDonnell’s use his vacation home, plane and car.
As the trial went on, ridiculous stories came out about the marital problems between McDonnell and his wife. Prosecutors argued the problems were so bad that there was no way they could have conspired together.
Another story was about McDonnell staying with his priest, Reverend Wayne Ball of St. Patrick’ Catholic Church. Rev. Ball has a criminal record and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of frequenting a bawdy house. Other media reports defined it as a place used for “lewdness, assignation or prostitution.” Norfolk police had arrested Ball and another Richmond man when they were found together in a parked car in a local park. That thickened the plot of this Greek tragedy.
When all was said and done, Bob McDonnell and his wife were convicted over $177,000 in gifts in exchange for promoting Anatabloc. I’ll never condone what Governor McDonnell and his wife did, but I couldn’t help but think “How could they possibly be that stupid?”
Why did they risk everything on a mere $177,000? Didn’t they realize the time for a politician to cash-in in this country is after their time in office? This day and age, there is no shortage of ways for a politician to get rich after their term is up. I guess the Eric Cantor lesson came a little late.
Bob McDonnell was no stranger to controversy during his tenure as Governor. He was on the short list to be the Vice Presidential candidate with Mitt Romney in 2012 and was a Tea Party/family values politician (in theory anyway, obviously not in practice).
He was a champion of giving all women vaginal ultrasounds if they wanted an abortion. He supported right-to-work laws, drilling for oil off the coast of Virginia, and to no surprise, he campaigned as a gun rights advocate. He held an “A” rating from the NRA Political Victory Fund and won their endorsement in his 2009 gubernatorial campaign.
He was against gay rights, supported the war on drugs, supported a school vouchers system, and was of course, against the Affordable Care Act. Oh yeah, he also dabbled in redistricting. Governor McDonnell embodied everything I deplore in a “public servant.”
Bob McDonnell resigned on January 11, 2014, the same day successor Terry McAuliffe was sworn in. Jonnie Williams has resigned from Star Scientific and will end his employment on December 27, 2014 after a shareholder meeting. The sentencing hearing for Bob and Maureen McDonald is set for January 6, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
How often do we see Republicans with so called “family values” or “Christian values” behaving holier than thou, just to get caught practicing the opposite of what they preach? A value isn’t a value unless you live by it.