Politics & Policy

Virginia’s Ex-Governor Is Now a Felon


Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell returns with family members, including his son Bobby (right), to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Sept. 4 in Richmond

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell returns with family members, including his son Bobby (right), to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Sept. 4 in Richmond

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.

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Green is senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek in Washington. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaGreen.

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