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It should have been a time to sit back and relish his accomplishments. Instead, former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are caught up in the midst of a criminal scandal.
Whatever the outcome, McDonnell’s legacy is tarnished and his political career is finished. Even worse, revelations of his questionable ethics likely cost the Republicans one, if not several statewide offices. And those losses have already proven costly to the conservative values McDonnell touted during his tenure in office.
Newly installed Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring have hit the road like a pair of NASCAR drivers, making hard lefts at every turn.
The McDonnells have been indicted on 13 felony counts and their alleged criminal acts are spelled out in a 43-page document that describes personal finances gone amok and an alleged cozy relationship with Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, accused of lavishing gifts on the governor and his wife in exchange for political favors. At the least, the allegations reveal shortcomings in Virginia’s financial disclosure regulations; at worst, criminal acts were committed.
That remains to be seen.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle have chosen to reserve judgment on McDonnell; many have expressed sadness at the state of affairs.
That’s a good approach to take.
In order to be convicted, prosecutors will have to prove McDonnell actually gave favors to Williams for the gifts the family received. That’s easier said then done.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, it’s a sad ending for McDonnell, a once rising star in the Republican party who had even been mentioned as a possible contender one day for the White House.
Not any more.
Did the McDonnells “defraud the citizens of Virginia” as the allegations claim? That remains to be seen.
But what is certain is that poor choices were made—McDonnell has already admitted that on several occasions. And the fallout is extensive—both for him and for the Commonwealth.