A 2011 shopping spree in which Maureen McDonnell, wife of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, picked up a $10,000 Oscar de la Renta jacket couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that Jonnie Williams, the man who paid for the couture goods, heads up a company currently embroiled in legal battles in Virginia.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Williams also bought McDonnell two pairs of designer shoes, a designer dress, and a Louis Vuitton handbag, all of which were gifts totally unrelated to the fact that Williams, CEO of a money-losing company called Star Scientific, is currently fighting to avoid paying the state of Virginia more than $1.5 million in back taxes and penalties.
The presents did not appear on the statements of economic interest the governor filed for that year — and they did not have to. Virginia’s disclosure laws do not require officeholders to report gifts given to family members or gifts given by friends.
But the revelation of big spending on the first lady casts a harsher light on the relationship between the governor and Williams — whose troubled Henrico County-based dietary supplement maker and former tobacco company has lost money for 10 years, is in litigation with the state over a $700,000 tax assessment, and is the subject of a federal securities investigation.
Also definitely on the level was the time Williams gave Governor McDonnell a check for $15,000 to cover the bulk of the catering at McDonnell's daughter's wedding, a gift McDonnell didn't disclose because it was a gift for his daughter, you see. And when Williams gave lake house vacations and private jet trips to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who was forced to recuse his office from Williams' case when it came to light that he was representing the state despite being a Star Scientific stockholder, according to the Washington Post.
All of this is without a doubt above board, and it makes no sense whatsoever that Governor McDonnell is now being scrutinized by state and federal investigations for gifts he's taken during his time in office. Can't a guy live?
[Image via AP]