Bob McDonnell. Photo credit: Washington Times
Bob McDonnell. Photo credit: Washington Times

OMG! Maureen and Bob McDonnell owed $75,000 on seven credit cards when Bob took office as governor in 2010. Their credit card debt peaked at $90,000 later that year. The first family managed to pay down its debt to around $31,000 the next year, apparently after Maureen inherited some money, according to the Times-Dispatch.

Think about it: They owned a McMansion in Richmond’s West End, a resort property in Wintergreen, and (co-owned) two beach properties in Virginia Beach. And had $90,000 in credit card debt. And racked up another $220,000 in debt from private individuals, including Jonnie Williams, Sr., president of Star Scientific, to keep their Virginia Beach properties afloat.

I’m wondering if this sheds light on McDonnell’s approach to government. The hallmark of his transportation policy was a willingness to borrow billions of dollars, and then to leverage that state debt through added toll-backed public-private partnership debt. Was there a connection between his views on personal debt and his views on state debt? Perhaps.

The common denominator, one could argue, was a proclivity to engage in best-case-scenario thinking and an inability or unwillingness to consider that things might go wrong. A more prudent man would not have allowed the state to get in the jam it did by rushing the U.S. 460 upgrade — a fiasco that could expose taxpayers to $300 million or more in losses.

As always, I’ll reserve final judgment until after I hear McDonnell’s defense. But I’m not feeling very charitably inclined toward the man at the moment.


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5 responses to “Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt”

  1. He’s kinda crapped up the whole concept of “conservatism”, eh?

    another day older , and certainly no smarter… this man is on planet ZELDA…or whatever..

    and yes.. when you come up with ideas like selling the ABC stores to fund transportation or put the state in debt on roads or commit the state to a long term contract when you don’t have Army Corps permits – and then your personal affairs look like they were conducted in a similar way –

    but he had no problems forcing women to get vaginal ultra-sounds or telling the working poor in Va that Va could not afford dirt cheap insurance .. even for people who worked for a living – then you sort of get the true measure of the man.

    It still boggles my mind that with his personal finances – he thought he could be a VP to Romney… On what planet was this man – who KNEW he would be vetted… some call this arrogance… I call it something else…

    It’s pretty clear to me – and has been – that he and Maureen were unfit for the Governorship – no matter what the legal “technicalities” might be.

    and , how much of any of this would have come out – at all, ever, if he and Maureen had signed a plea agreement? You gotta wonder just what he was thinking… what kind of judgement does he have?

    Unless the “defense” has one heck of an ace in the hole, I predict that Bacon is getting ready to fricassee that hat.

  2. McDonnell’s real problem was his eight year detour through full time politics. He holds a BA from Notre Dame, an MBA from Boston University and a JD from Regent University. He was an Army officer who worked in the medical supply area. When he retired from the Army he was an executive at American Hospital Supply. He was also in the Army reserves until 1997 retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.

    Through age 52 or so McDonnell was probably bringing home plenty of money. No doubt he got used to living a bit large. He was a part time General Assembly member but I assume he had other sources of income besides the paltry GA salary.

    Then he was bitten by the political bug and successfully ran for Attorney General in 2006. He ran for governor in 2009.

    I imagine that his ability to rent his vacation properties took a hit when the bottom fell out of the economy from 2008 – 2011.

    So, he began to accumulate debt. Maybe some of his real estate was under water.

    So what? How much do you think a former governor with three degrees who goes into private practice makes in a year? $500,000? $750,000? More?

    His debt level was completely reasonable relative to his expected future earnings.

    He got hit by the double whammy of decreasing income from going into full time politics after what I imagine was a successful career in business and then was caught holding real estate when the market collapsed.

    So, he borrowed what should have been less than 1/2 a year’s salary for a former governor / MBA / lawyer.

    Absent his legal problems he was a perfectly good credit risk. I would have lent him money and I don’t want or need anything from the state government!

    1. you wanna explain how others in his same situation managed to be “conservative” enough to maintain reasonable finances and not get
      “caught up” in stuff?

      At the end of the day -each person has the same challenge and the same responsibility – to conduct themselves so they don’t get into financial trouble.

      he screwed up… there are thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who had similar financial challenges who made the right judgments to not put themselves in such jeopardy that they were vulnerable to disaster.

      at the same time this guy -turns down working people from having some level of health insurance to protect themselves from bankruptcy if they get sick.

      The folks who do Credit Scores have the truth. What do you think the McDonnell’s credit score was? I’m betting it was not so good even before bad stuff happened.

      this guy was NOT an entrepreneur – he was a life-long government employee who was living “large” from what? Where did he earn his money?

      We all know folks who live beyond their means. Sometimes they get away with it and sometimes they don’t but don’t fool yourself into thinking that they were a unfortunate victim of circumstance – at least any more that you would for folks who really do live at the economic margins – making minimum wage and trying to make ends meet.

      I think it’ disgusting that someone makes 6 figure income and claims to be a victim of circumstances beyond their control. BARF!

      1. “this guy was NOT an entrepreneur – he was a life-long government employee who was living “large” from what?”

        I thought he worked for American Hospital Supply. He didn’t run for full time office until he was 52. He left active duty in the Army when he was 26 I believe. That leaves 26 years in between.

        I don’t think he held any government jobs other than part-time General Assembly member and Army reservist. He must have done something more than attend General assembly meetings and be in the reserves, no?

        1. “After leaving active duty in 1981, McDonnell worked for the American Hospital Supply Corporation, primarily in the custom products regional division.

          His career path shifted from business to law and public policy when he selected a joint degree program at Christian Broadcasting Network University now known as Regent University.[13] He obtained an M.A./J.D. there in 1989.[9][10] During his studies, McDonnell interned under Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-California ”

          where did you get the 26 years?

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