Scandal swarms over McDonnell, Cuccinelli

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By Rick Howell

One thing we can always rely on about Republicans is their unbridled devotion to capital and business...in other words, to money and power.
    Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell appears to have let his attachment to “mammon” (the Biblical term for money) get the better of him, or, perhaps better described, of him and his wife, Maureen.
    McDonnell is currently embroiled in a growing scandal that seems to get worse almost every day, as new revelations about financial gifts to the governor that he didn’t disclose as required by law are revealed.
    There’s always a corporation involved, isn’t there? And a CEO who somehow manages to worm his way into the hearts of admiring Republicans, who worship so devoutly at the altar of that great capitalist promise: Untold Wealth.
    In this case, the company is “Star Scientific,” and the CEO is one Jonnie Williams, who has showered the McDonnells with money and gifts, much of which has not been disclosed publicly as it should have been.
    This is a twisted tale that, sadly, many Virginians haven’t paid attention to, being that it’s summer and all that. Conservative pundits and columnists have basically ignored it, given that the “Christian conservative” McDonnell has always been such a favorite of theirs. But it can’t be ignored any longer.
    It has to do with a governor very eager to promote a company’s product, and a governor’s wife very eager, apparently, to get that company’s CEO to do favors for her and her husband.
    Star Scientific was promoting some nutritional-type product it wanted developed, and due to its political donations, it had connections to the governor and his family.
    What surfaced first was that Williams had paid $15,000 for the catering at the wedding of one of McDonnell’s daughters, held at the Governor’s Mansion in 2011.
    Then, it was revealed that Maureen McDonald had asked Williams to purchase an expensive Rolex watch so she could give it as a birthday gift to her husband. That was to the tune of about $6,000.
    These gifts, paired with McDonnell’s efforts to help Williams and Star Scientific promote its product, caught the attention of the FBI, which launched an ongoing investigation.
    That was bad enough already...now, this item from the Washington Post on July 10: “A prominent political donor gave $70,000 to a corporation owned by McDonnell and his sister last year, and the governor did not disclose the money as a gift or a loan...The donor, wealthy businessman Jonnie Williams Sr., also gave a previously unknown $50,000 to the governor’s wife, Maureen, in 2011.”
    Regardless of the outcome of the FBI probe, many, including UVA’s political analyst, Larry Sabato, have concluded that any future for McDonnell in politics is finished. A few legislators have already begun to call for his resignation.
    Ken Cuccinelli, the “tea party” fanatic who is seeking to replace McDonnell, has also been chummy with Williams and Star Scientific, and has accepted donations and gifts, some of which he has actually said he “forgot” to report.
    Now, though, Cuccinelli is running away from McDonnell as fast as he can, as though the governor is the lead ghoul in a zombie outbreak.
    Yet, Cuccinelli won’t say whether he supports Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s proposal for a $100 limit on gifts to politicians and their families. He’s too busy swimming away from McDonnell.
    No wonder “Christian conservatives” like to point so many fingers at abortion and homosexuality. That’s the low hanging fruit that keeps them off other subjects.
    They pay less attention to that other thing the Bible warns about, “the love of money,” as the root of all evil. For surely, conservative Republicans love it with all their hearts.

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    Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at RickDem117@gmail.com.