That may be what Virginia's Governor Robert (Bob) McDonnell is doing right now. McDonnell and Virginia's first lady, Maureen McDonnell, attracted the wrong type of attention when the news broke that Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams provided Maureen with $50,000 loan and his sister with a $70,000 loan. The governor may not have reported the loans on required disclosure forms. The bigger question is were any favors done by the governor in return for the private financing.
McDonnell's camp says "he learned of a $50,000 loan Williams made to his wife in May 2011, about two weeks after the money arrived, by which time it had been spent." His flacks also claim that "he knew little of his wife's decision to buy stock in Star -- an investment that meant the McDonnell family held a personal stake in the company even as the couple took steps to promote it."
There's no news from the McDonnell camp about his awareness that CEO Williams provided $15,000 for his daughter's wedding plua a $10,000 engagement gift for another daughter.
Another memory test will come up when the governor is asked if he was aware that his wife attended a Star Scientific promotional event in Florida to promote the company's new anti-inflammatory dietary supplement.
The FBI launched an investigation of McDonnell's largesse from the head of Star Scientific. On Monday, bureau agents interviewed the governor, his wife, and Jonnie Williams separately in Richmond.
He said, she said - she does time, he doesn't
The stand by your man theme featuring a dutiful wife is common in American politics. But, that's usually in the context of marital infidelity, which has yet to be declared a federal crime. In this case, leaks from the McDonnell camp indicate that Mrs. McDonnell may end up the patsy. This would introduce an all new theme -- take the fall for your man.
Why is this important for Governor McDonnell?
If the governor knew little or nothing about the loan, wedding, and other gifts, he can plead ignorance of any wrong doing in that regard. She's a good woman and so forth, he can argue, but I can't keep up with her since I'm so busy being governor.
Star Scientific CEO Williams has a different story. The News Leader reports that Williams "told authorities that McDonnell frequently spoke with him about ways he and the state could help Star Scientific gain prestige and scientific endorsements for its new anti-inflammatory supplement."
If that's the case, then the political corruption charge is a slam-dunk. You need a gift, reported or not, and a quid pro quo, a favor provided in return for the gift.
If favors are found and those are linked to the governor through his wife, then she may face indictment as a co-conspirator with her man. If the McDonnell strategy works and he can shed blame on the first lady by claiming she never told me, then she will take the fall alone.
Who will the Feds believe?
We don't know a great deal about Mrs. McDonnell. We have some information about CEO Williams. He's run his company for over a decade. Star Scientific is focused on a dietary supplement line that features an anti-inflammatory supplement and some smokeless tobacco products. The company lost over $80 million from 2009 through 2011 with revenues under $4 million. Williams is obviously a gifted fund-raiser.
We know a fair amount about the governor.
- Televangelist Pat Robertson has been one of McDonnell's key supporters since the governor graduated from Robertson's Regent University Law School. McDonnell has been called a Robertson protege. McDonnell refused to criticize Robertson's statement that 9/11 God's way of punishing New Yorkers for tolerating gays and lesbians.
- McDonnell revived the race-baiting Confederate History Month from Virginia's segregationist past. His proclamation starting the month failed to mention slavery. It was issued after the governor was lobbied by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.. The group was featured in the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Hatewatch" blog for it's neo-Confederate stance in racial issues.
- Virginia denies voting rights to 200,000 ex-felons. A national scandal, successive governors claim they want things to change. McDonnell did just that. He added an essay as a requirement to appeal for the right to vote, another major pathway in Virginia's maze of obstruction preventing this group of mostly black citizens to regain their right to vote.
- McDonnell supported the odious anti-abortion measure that would have required a medically unnecessary vaginal sonogram with a six to eight inch ultrasound want. The law actually violated the states ban on "object rape" (insertion of any object in the vagina for non medical purposes). Fury against the measure by Virginia women and strong objections from the business community stopped the measure.
When FBI agents evaluate the believability of each witness to the suspected crimes, they should reference McDonnell's very public political history. He is supported by and refuses to condemn a zealot televangelist. He issues proclamations on the Civil War that make slavery disappear as an issue. He makes it harder for 200,000 citizens who paid their debt to society to vote. And, he supported a law that he knew or should have known was "object rape," and an offence to even the crudest form of common decency.
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