Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell was going to emerge from his bribery and corruption trial as either a convicted felon or a clueless, neglectful husband who didn’t realize a rich political donor was lavishing expensive, illegal gifts on his out-of-control wife. Either way, his political future was doomed. This afternoon a jury decided it: convicted felon.
McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted on multiple counts of “conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud, honest-services wire fraud, conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right, and obtaining the property under color of official right.” The five-week trial in U.S. District Court in Richmond found that the two traded political influence for loans and gifts from a dietary supplement magnate, Jonnie Williams, valued at more than $170,000.
What stood out in the trial was both the tackiness of the McDonnells’ behavior—zipping around in a Ferrari, flashing bling (like this $6,500 Rolex), begging Williams to buy Maureen an Oscar de la Renta gown—and Bob McDonnell’s singularly unchivalrous defense, which amounted to calling his own wife a greedy nut job, albeit one who had technically not violated any laws.
McDonnell’s fall was dramatic and precipitous. As recently as last year, he was still being promoted as a possible 2016 Republican presidential contender. Instead, he’s facing up to 30 years in prison—although his lawyer, Henry Asbill, told the New York Times that McDonnell will appeal the verdict.