The practice of law in Virginia is supposed to be an honorable profession.
The state, which produced such orators as Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, loves its lawyers perhaps much more than individuals who actually create or do something of value. It could be why the state has so many of them.
This makes a filing in the McDonnell corruption case by five former attorneys general all the more despicable. The bunch includes both parties and is made up of Andrew P. Miller, J. Marshall Coleman, Mary Sue Terry, Stephen D. Rosenthal and Mark L. Earley.
They want corruption charges thrown out against former Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who, with his wife, has been indicted on 14 federal corruption charges. Their trial, expected in July, will explore charges they misused their position to help a dietary supplement maker who showered them with more than $165,000 in personal gifts and loans.
The five attorneys general claim that there is no clear evidence the McDonnells did anything wrong. Odd, but I thought lawyers knew enough not to try and bias a case that has been through the indictment and arraignment phase and is due for trial but then I didn’t go to law school.
Their other reason is actually more upsetting. Their filing claims that future governors might be reluctant to invite state business leaders on foreign trade missions or to host campaign donors at the governors mansion, according to The Washington Post.
Huh? I don’t see the connection. Of course, governor’s can host trade missions. They can invite people to the Executive Mansion. It’s just that, in the process, the governors can’t reasonably be OK with accepting a $6,500 Rolex from the head of Kia Motors or a special loan for his failing beach houses from the local rep of Rolls Royce North America.
It is stunning that the five attorneys general are caught up in “the Virginia Way” of having hardly any controls on gift giving and spending that everything is OK. They also can’t seem to move beyond the conceit that anyone who occupies the governor’s chair must naturally be an honest gentleman or gentlewoman.
This kind of thinking helps explain nothing substantive has been done to reform the state’s ethics laws. I can give you five reasons why.