Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, have both been indicted on federal corruption charges related to their acceptance of more than $160,000 in gifts from the CEO of Star Scientific, a Virginia dietary supplement manufacturer.
U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente delivered the 43-page indictment in Richmond on Tuesday afternoon, ending months of speculation about the extent and seriousness of the McDonnells’ ties to Star Scientific’s former CEO, Jonnie Williams, Sr. McDonnell, whose term as governor ended in early January, admitted in July 2013 that Williams provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and loans to him and his wife, but denied he used his power as governor to favor Williams’s company.
The couple’s attorney responded to the indictment charges with a statement attributed to the former governor:
I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship. I never promised – and Mr. Williams and his company never received – any government benefit of any kind from me or my Administration. We did not violate the law, and I will use every available resource and advocate I have for as long as it takes to fight these false allegations, and to prevail against this unjust overreach of the federal government.
The charges introduce even more uncertainty into the future of McDonnell’s political career. Prior to a comprehensive Washington Post investigation last year, the Republican had been considered a leading contender for higher office—including President—on the basis of his clean reputation and Virginia’s economic success during his tenure. In August 2013—
after before the Post revealed his ties to Williams—the Romney campaign chose McDonnell to announce that Paul Ryan would join their ticket. He was also rumored to be on Romney’s shortlist for a running partner.
[Photo credit: Associated Press]