Bob McDonnell (R) and his wife Maureen pled not guilty to corruption charges on Friday. The former Virginia Governor and his wife arrived at a Richmond, Virginia courthouse early this morning with an entourage of friends, family members, and supporters. The McDonnell’s were indicted Tuesday on 14 counts of federal corruption charges and were released at the consummation of Friday’s hearing without bond.
The former Republican governor and his wife were investigated by federal authorities after their relationship with a former CEO of a dietary supplement manufacturer was found to be politically influential. The federal investigation found that the former first couple of Virginia accepted $165,000 in loans, gifts, and vacation time from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of a dietary supplement company and of the Star Scientific. Some of the gifts included a Rolex watch, a $19,000 shopping spree, and vacationing at William’s house at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia.
Upon the Bob and Maureen McDonnell’s release, Judge David Novak ordered the couple not to leave the country. John Brownlee, the former attorney of the governor told the judge that the couple has already surrendered their passports. Judge Novak sternly lectured attorneys on both side not to discuss the case with reporters. He warned that such actions would violate a judicial rule that has the potential to result in being charged with contempt of court. Novak, who has been exasperated by months of stories from anonymous sources, stated that he does not want to play games with the media, in and out of the courtroom.
During the Friday morning proceeding former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife said virtually nothing and only answered routine questions regarding their understanding of the charges. Afterwards, the couple headed to another room for their arraignment. The jury trial for former Governor McDonnell and his wife is set for July 28th. He has apologized for what he calls bad judgment regarding the accepting of gifts and said that he has repaid around $120,000 in both gifts and loans. Bob and Maureen McDonnell steadfastly denied breaking any laws and have pled not guilty.
Along with accepting loans and gifts from Williams, McDonnell used his political stature to promote the businessman’s product at events which turned this instance from scandalous into potentially criminal. Furthermore, the actions were not limited to former Governor McDonnell. His wife Maureen travelled to New York City on a Williams-funded trip with a lavish and expensive shopping spree at Oscar de la Renta and Louis Vuitton. There are speculations that the issues ensued because the McDonnell’s spent nearly all of their personal funds in the governor’s elections campaign in 2008.
The federal investigation has destroyed Bob McDonnell’s chances of attaining a higher political office. The once rising star of the Republican Party was even considered a possible vice presidential candidate for Mitt Romney in 2012. While the accusations are setting in and the court dates have been set, former Governor McDonnell states that he is actively mending the wrongdoings in which he was involved. This has included paying back nearly all the money he borrowed. After leaving the courtroom mid-morning on Friday, after hearing the charges brought against them, Bob McDonnell and his wife have pled not guilty.
By: Alex Lemieux