Jury Convicts VA Ex-Gov McDonnell and Wife

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell were convicted on an array of corruption charges today.

The 7-man, 5-woman jury returned its findings on the third day of deliberations here in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Both McDonnells, who now face years in prison, were acquitted of lesser charges of making false statements on loan applications, while Ms. McDonnell was convicted on a charge she alone faced, of obstructing a grand jury investigation by trying to make a gift of $20,000 worth of designer dresses and shoes appear to have been a loan.

The McDonnells were accused of selling McDonnell's office during a 24 month period to a vitamin salesman named Jonnie R. Williams, Jr., who gave the McDonnells $170,000 in gifts, money and "no document loans." Williams was a chief witness against them, having made a deal with the Government for immunity. His company was the subject of an SEC investigation. [More...]

Bob McDonnell testified at trial. He and his wife maintained their marriage was so broken during the time period at issue, they could not have agreed on anything, much less a conspiracy.

A big issue was the definition of "official action" in the jury instructions.

The judge defined bribery as trading something of value “for official actions by a public official — in other words, quid pro quo.”

Mr. McDonnell’s defense has argued that the things he did for Mr. Williams, such as introducing him to officials in his cabinet, were trivial courtesies and not official acts. The judge rejected that argument. He told jurors that official actions were not just a governor’s job description as codified by law. They also include “actions clearly established by settled practice as part of public office” — that is, seemingly everything related to a governor’s administration.

More on that here.

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    Couldn't have happened (5.00 / 7) (#1)
    by Repack Rider on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 08:21:27 PM EST
    ...to a more sanctimonious, God-serving, Pat Robertson loving hypocrite.  The schadenfraude for this is almost as good as the Jim Bakker or Jimmy Swaggart version.

    The ethical training of Regent University on the march.  Onward Christian Grifters...

    Absolutely (none / 0) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 08:24:55 PM EST
    Evangelicals (none / 0) (#15)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 10:48:54 AM EST
    Their motto should be ruining Christianity for everybody.

    Except (none / 0) (#19)
    by jbindc on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 11:01:27 AM EST
    The McDonnell's are Catholic, and while they may be conservative Catholics, those aren't the same thing as Evangelicals.

    Please plain the difference (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 11:13:43 AM EST

    McDonnell's 1989 thesis for Regent University[58] was a 93-page document titled The Republican Party's Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of The Decade. The document explored the rise in the numbers of divorces and illegitimate births, and examined public policies that may have contributed to that increase and proposed solutions. The document gained attention in the campaign because it outlined a 15-point conservative agenda, including 10 points McDonnell pursued during his years in the General Assembly, according to press analysis.[59]

    This agenda includes opposition to abortion, support for school vouchers and covenant marriage, and tax policies that favor heterosexual families.[60] In his thesis, McDonnell wrote "government policy should favor married couples over 'cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.'"[61] McDonnell "described working women and feminists as 'detrimental' to the family."[61]

    McDonnell "criticized a landmark 1965 Supreme Court decision" which legalized the use of contraceptives, writing that "man's basic nature is inclined towards evil, and when the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse, or homosexuality, the government must restrain, punish, and deter." McDonnell responded to the article, stating "Virginians will judge me on my 18-year record as a legislator and attorney general and the specific plans I have laid out for our future - not on a decades-old academic paper I wrote as a student during the Reagan era and haven't thought about in years."[59]

    Hot Damn... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 12:15:44 PM EST
    ....you have to love a guy in a 'marriage so broken during the time period at issue, they could not have agreed on anything' believing that is some sort of sacred covenant with the G.O.D that deserves government favoritism.

    I guess in the eyes of a republican politician, being miserable entitles them to tax breaks and bribes because they are good christians ?

    I would love for him to expound on his Regent University thesis with the recent events and how they weave into his christian beliefs & his loveless marriage, from prison.

    That would be something special.


    Please EXplain (none / 0) (#21)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 11:16:08 AM EST
    Or 'splain if you prefer

    His theology may not be straight Evangelical (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 11:43:25 AM EST
    but his approach to social issues certainly is.

    Catholics (none / 0) (#24)
    by jbindc on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 11:48:53 AM EST
    unlike Evangelicals, for starters, don't believe in being "born again".

    Here's a good article that explains some differences.

    And here's a good graph.

    That's not to say that some Catholics don't agree with some of the things that Evangelicals believe, but your quoted passage highlights that Bob M. went to Regent for his MA/JD degree only.  But what is always left out is that he went to Notre Dame for undergrad and Boston College for his MBA. (He even was living with a priest - his college roommate - during the trial).

    I don't know what Bob M.'s real religious beliefs are today. I believe that attending an evangelical graduate program at a place like Regent would only be attractive to someone with a particular bent, and writing a thesis like this (under the supervision of a real whack-a-doodle like Herb Titus) does make him fair game for speculation on his religious outlook, although, as any good writer knows, you write to your audience and what they want (especially if that audience is grading your thesis).  He's also a lawyer, and lawyers are taught to argue - even if they don't believe in the cause.

    But generally, Catholics (even conservative ones) and Evangelicals are not even in the same ballpark.


    Not all (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 12:23:46 PM EST
    evangelicals believe in being born again either. The main strain that holds evangelicals together is the desire for conversion even if it is done forcibly.

    Your definition (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by sj on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 02:08:03 PM EST
    The main strain that holds evangelicals together is the desire for conversion even if it is done forcibly.
    ...states very well my interpretation of evangelism (I guess as opposed to "neo" evangelism). And Catholics are far from exempt under that definition.

    Especially if you apply "conversion" as converting to lifestyle as opposed to theology.

    So "I believe abortion is murder" translates to you can't have an abortion.

    "I don't believe birth control is the same abortion" translates to you can't have birth control.

    You get the picture. Using that measurement, Catholics are the very definition of Evangelical.


    And before jb and Donald (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by sj on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 02:10:34 PM EST
    respond as if I don't know this: I stipulate that not all Catholics are the same. I'm just saying RCs are not exempt from being Evangelical just because they are Catholic.

    Some are (none / 0) (#52)
    by jbindc on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 04:01:27 PM EST
    But since the basic tenets of the Catholic Church are pretty different than Evangelicals, I think lumping them together in a group is wrong.

    See:  the Corporal Works of Mercy, for one.


    There are many leftist (none / 0) (#53)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 04:12:47 PM EST
    Evangelical organizations doing great work from climate to feeding the poor. Your tribalism is showing.

    Tenets have nothing to do (none / 0) (#54)
    by sj on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 05:44:26 PM EST
    with evangelism and accompanying fervor. I agree with Howdy that your tribalism is showing.

    So from my seat as a very lapsed Catholic, it is your exceptionalism on behalf of the RC Church that is wrong.  


    Tenets (none / 0) (#55)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 05:47:48 PM EST
    may be different but the behavior and paying attention to only certain tenets is what a lot of Catholics do. Now I'm not dinging on Catholics with that statement but as you know something like 98% of Catholics use birth control and isn't that considered a venal sin in the Catholic Church?

    Speaking as a practicing Roman Catholic, ... (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 11:46:35 AM EST
    ... there is really little if any practical difference between the toxic brand of conservative Catholicism as practiced by the McDonnells (and others) and the right-wing Evangelical movement; they align themselves politically all the time. Further, while Bob McDonnell may have attended Notre Dame as an undergraduate, he received his JD from the Rev. Pat Robertson's Regent University.

    How do you know (none / 0) (#25)
    by jbindc on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 11:49:33 AM EST
    What the McDonnell's actually practice (if they practice at all)?

    His policies (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 01:05:08 PM EST
    This, we should remember, is "Governor Ultrasound"

    Why does it matter? Shouldn't we be (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by Anne on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 02:46:50 PM EST
    looking at his policies, the legislation he supports, etc?  That's the stuff that really affects people.

    I, for one, don't care what religion the McDonnells practice, I think it's stupid to nitpick over whether he fits in whatever religious box people want to put him in. Apparently, he's a liar and a thief who - surprise! - thinks he's some kind of special.

    Sadly, there are plenty of people who will overlook his crimes because of the things he believes; is there a Church of the Craven? I think that's the real house the McDonnells worship in.


    The Powerhouse (none / 0) (#43)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 02:54:40 PM EST
    Actually, no (none / 0) (#51)
    by jbindc on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 04:00:21 PM EST
    Why does it matter? Shouldn't we be (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Anne on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 02:46:50 PM EST

    looking at his policies, the legislation he supports, etc?  That's the stuff that really affects people.

    Not anymore, as his policies can do nothing to anyone.  

    And my question was fine sinc Donlad seemed to have some insight into what kind of Catholics the McDonnell's are.

    Right now, I'd say they aren't very good ones.


    Well (none / 0) (#56)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 05:50:38 PM EST
    here again by a lot of Catholic's standards I'm sure you're correct that they aren't but their lifestyles of the wanna be rich and almost famous are pretty typical of evangelical Catholics.

    Like Donald said there really isn't a whole lot of difference between conservative Catholics and Evangelicals as far how they behave goes and what they think is important.


    There are (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 12:20:56 PM EST
    Catholics that are considered "evangelical catholics" by the Pat Robertson crowd. Rick Santorum would be one of them that I could think of off of the top of my head.

    There are Evangelical Catholics (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by Yman on Sat Sep 06, 2014 at 10:03:36 AM EST
    But more importantly, while there are obvious differences in theology, there is an alliance when it comes to political positions on many issues and agendas between the Christian Right and conservative Catholics.

    All I have to (5.00 / 3) (#29)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 12:27:53 PM EST
    say is one less sanctimonious Pat Roberston politician in politics is a good thing.

    I Guarantee... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 12:51:38 PM EST
    ...we have not seen the last of Bob McDonnell.

    See Mark Sanford, who in the eyes of right wing christians, committed a far worse sin, leaving his wife for his soul mate.


    I agree (none / 0) (#34)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 01:03:45 PM EST
    Not only that they love the "persons of faith being pilloried by the godless media" meme.

    But, you just wait, and, see (none / 0) (#3)
    by NYShooter on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 08:49:37 PM EST
    Those bible thumping faux Conservatives just love them phony acts of contrition and forgiveness.

    How many hookers and porno shops did Swaggart grace before even his flock of suckers ran out of clothes pins?

    It's called (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 10:52:00 AM EST
    the concept of "cheap grace" Just talk about your personal relationship with Jesus and it does not matter what you actually do.

    I have some other names for it (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 11:00:09 AM EST
    Saving Souls is Dirty Work (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:14:27 PM EST
    Dumb question (none / 0) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:23:28 PM EST
    Why are they not sentenced until January?

    The procedure mandated by (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Peter G on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:48:49 PM EST
    Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32, which governs the sentencing process in federal court, takes a couple of months at the absolute least to complete. Four months is on the long side of normal, but not extraordinary. And don't call good questions "dumb."  Not knowing this sort of thing is hardly a sign of being "dumb."

    Thanks P&J (none / 0) (#8)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 07:19:42 AM EST
    Peter's correct -- in non-legal terms (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 01:53:52 AM EST
    it's because U.S. probation has to write up a detailed pre-sentence report and make a recommendation to the judge as to the appropriate sentence. It not only calculates the sentencing guidelines but explains the history of the offender (everything from family, education, jobs, prior criminal history) and the facts of the offense. The report goes to the court, and lawyers for the defendant and the Government, but otherwise is restricted -- no one else gets access. Both sides get 14 days to file objections, after which probation files its final report.

    In Colorado, federal sentencings must be at least 10 weeks from the date the person was convicted or pleaded guilty, to allow enough time for all these things.


    So Jenji Kohan (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by ruffian on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 09:31:40 AM EST
    has time to write Alison Janney's next Emmy role into the next season of OITB - convicted ex-Governor's wife.

    Jose Diaz-Balart is great (none / 0) (#9)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 07:40:41 AM EST
    Donnie Dootch is a moron.   I woke up early today to take the dogs to the groomer so I tune in to Morning Banjo Boy.  The table tried unsuccessfully to explains to Dootch that laws were, in fact, broken even if he did not personally understand how or why.

    Angels and Ministers of Grace protect Meet the Press.

    I hope they get some (none / 0) (#10)
    by Uncle Chip on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 08:32:22 AM EST
    marriage counseling --

    Unless the judge sentences them (none / 0) (#11)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 09:25:24 AM EST
    to probation only, they'll have a little time apart to think about their problems.  That'll have to do until they've served their respective sentences.

    Maybe they should (none / 0) (#13)
    by Uncle Chip on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 09:37:31 AM EST
    be sentenced to spend a few years together in the same cell --

    On the other hand, that would be considered a cruel and unusual punishment.


    Especially for anyone in the cells... (none / 0) (#14)
    by unitron on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 10:27:38 AM EST
    ...on either side or otherwise within earshot.

    For the record (none / 0) (#17)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 10:58:30 AM EST
    Their marriage "problems" seem to have been exaggerated

    Prosecutors showed Monday that the couple vacationed together 18 times in 22 months. They also showed pictures of the McDonnells arriving at court holding hands earlier this year.

    An FBI agent testified Thursday that former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife spent many nights together in the governor's mansion, a final effort to undercut the defense argument that the couple's failing marriage made a conspiracy implausible.

    When asked if he had a romantic relationship with Maureen, Williams said no.
    A voice mail and evidence of a meeting between Williams and then-Gov. McDonnell showed a direct connection between the two.
    Upon ending the day's testimony, the judge remarked, "We're going to stop here because I can't take another second."

    Williams also testified that he never had any physical relationship with Maureen McDonnell and never witnessed or heard from the first lady about any tension between the McDonnells. He also said he "didn't know Mrs. McDonnell had any interest in me until this past week."

    There's plenty more if you look


    How Many Sins ? (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 12:34:19 PM EST
    Wonder how the G.O.D views lying about your marriage, under oath, to try and avoid multiple felonies counts for excepting extravagant gifts form a pill salesman that your wife coveted for some time.

    At least 6, with 2 or 3 three being violations of direct commandments from god.

    Certainly shoots a big hole in the 'marriage is sacred' argument, either way.  Lying about a sacred covenant with god, or living in a loveless marriage in which neither party spoke to the other for at least 24 months.


    The GOP has institutionalized (none / 0) (#33)
    by jondee on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 01:02:12 PM EST
    the travesty of social darwinist cutthroat six days a week and pie-in-the-sky for Sunday and the afterlife. Ayn Rand with a starved and whipped Jesus on a leash..

    And of course, they still have a need to wreck vengeance - one way or the other - on the ahem poor to appease the unreconstructed contingent who now like to call themselves libertarians.  


    For these (none / 0) (#36)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 01:53:26 PM EST
    people Jesus isn't the Prince of Peace, he's the Prince of Piece.

    What a joke! (none / 0) (#32)
    by LACriminalLawyer on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 12:58:07 PM EST
    I just don't understand how a deal to "gift" $170,000 to a "vitamin salesman" named "Jonnie R. Williams" would be suspect?!?

    Something just doesn't seem fair to me. (none / 0) (#39)
    by NYShooter on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 02:40:28 PM EST
    I understand that if Ex-Gov McDonnell had pleaded guilty to one felony count his sentence would have been minimal (possibly no jail time,) and, his wife wouldn't have been charged at all. I wonder if his lawyer pressed this offer hard enough to McDonnell? I'm not blaming the lawyer; I know that egotistical defendants sometimes think their aura can convince jurors to their greatness.

    But, my point is, that's some decision that prosecutors make to defendants: plead guilty, virtually no punishment, maintain your innocence, potentially decades in prison.

    My personal opinion (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 02:48:12 PM EST
    Is that it was pure hubris.  I think they thought they would get away with it.   Even now you have talking heads saying they can't believe he was convicted and that it's "just how things work"

    from Jan

    The plea deal offered by prosecutors in late December would have omitted accusations that Robert McDonnell misused his position as governor.

    Instead, he would have pleaded guilty to failing to disclose Williams's loans on a list of liabilities included on an application to refinance the couple's hefty mortgages.

    But in this week's motion, his attorneys argued that he was innocent of the fraud charge as well.

    They wrote that the omissions were inadvertent and would not have made a difference in whether his application was approved.

    Oops hit post to soon (none / 0) (#42)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 02:50:13 PM EST
    My prediction is that it will be "just how things work" a good bit less.  A good thing IMO.

    I get that, and, (none / 0) (#46)
    by NYShooter on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:21:26 PM EST
    I'm certainly not supporting McDonnell, he's a 1'st degree louse.

    But, place yourself in that position. Assume that you honestly believe you're innocent of whatever charges the prosecutors throw at you. And, my understanding is that they purposely pile on everything they can to try to make your decision untenable.

    In the name of fairness and justice, should you be put into the position of pleading guilty, and, walking out of court with a slap on the wrist, or fighting it, and, possibly spending decades in prison............if you honestly believe you're not guilty?

    My point is, it's not about justice, it's about saving the court time and work. And, the bargaining chip is your life. It seems to me justice demands that your decision should be based on your guilt or innocence, not on helping to expedite the court's schedule.


    Don't disagree (none / 0) (#47)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:22:50 PM EST
    But isn't that pretty much SOP.

    Yup, sho is n/t (none / 0) (#49)
    by NYShooter on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:27:35 PM EST
    Agreed... (none / 0) (#44)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:03:57 PM EST
    ...It seems hard to believe that a lawyer would run with 'they could not have conspired because they were not speaking' when a good offer was on the table.

    IMO, they had a bad lawyer, or they made him run with what they though would be an easy sell to the jury.


    Based on what i have seen of both (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by caseyOR on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:14:30 PM EST
    McDonnells and heard from them, actual smarts seem to be in short supply, as does their grip on reality.

    No argument there, but (none / 0) (#48)
    by NYShooter on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:25:06 PM EST
    should lacking "smarts" be punishable with (potentially) decades in prison?

    He's is being punished (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:29:19 PM EST
    For 11 felonies.