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Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell & Wife Convicted On Public Corruption Charges

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Once considered a presidential contender and future leader of the Republican Party, former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell was found guilty Thursday on 11 counts of public corruption. Both McDonnell and his wife Maureen were convicted of selling access to the office of the governor in exchange for gifts and money. Maureen McDonnell was only convicted on eight counts.

The star witness for the prosecution was Jonnie Williams, the businessman who had bribed the McDonnells in order to promote his company Star Scientific. Williams wanted former Governor McDonnell’s help in preventing Star Scientific’s tobacco related products from being classified as drugs. Williams wanted the drugs classified as “dietary supplements” to avoid costly regulation. To promote the success of his firm’s products and foster a relationship with the McDonnells the former CEO of Star Scientific gave the couple $177,000 in gifts and loans.

The lawyers for McDonnells, who currently have a strained relationship according to them, claimed former Governor McDonnell never helped Williams. Bob McDonnell also claimed in lengthy testimony that Maureen McDonnell had no real influence and never told him about the gifts and money she received. The jury was apparently unconvinced.

Jurors heard from 67 witnesses, including Williams and the former governor, who took the stand in his own defense for nearly 24 hours over several days. They saw memorable photos of McDonnell flashing a Rolex watch and riding in a Ferrari, and they heard sometimes tearful testimony from the governor’s children and former staffers.

They were shown mortgage applications, telephone records more charts than they probably care to remember — all designed to convince them that the governor and his wife conspired to take bribes from Williams.

Williams not only provided lavish gifts like Rolex watches and the use of his Ferrari to Bob McDonnell, he also provided $120,000 in low interest loans to Maureen McDonnell and a real estate company that Bob McDonnell and his sister owned according to the Washington Post who broke the story last year.

The destruction of Bob McDonnell’s political career leaves an even more wide open Republican field for 2016. McDonnell’s base of support had a strong Christian conservative element which he endeared by opposing gay marriage and reproductive rights for women. It was also discovered that McDonnell had argued in his college thesis that not only should heterosexual couples receive preferential treatment under the law over homosexuals, but that the US Supreme Court decision that had legalized contraception was wrong due to man’s nature being “inclined towards evil.”

With McDonnell’s career detonated who will fill the void?

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.