maureen_and_bob(1)By Peter Galuszka

How confusing can we make it?

Together, former Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife Maureen had numerous conversations with businessman Jonnie R. Williams from 2011 until 2013 about more than $177,000 in gifts and loans. They were convicted of corruption in federal court on Sept. 4.

In an opinion piece that is breathing taking in its misrepresentation and confusion, Jim Bacon, Paul Goldman and Mark J. Rozell wrote in the Roanoke Times Sunday and on this blog that the government’s case against the McDonnells is substantially flawed because Bob McDonnell did not discuss terms on one of Williams’ loan  payments to them.

The opinion piece also says that U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder must come clean about supposedly fiddling with evidence before the McDonnells are sentenced next year. The opinion piece fails to present any hard evidence that Holder did just this.

Their argument falls apart because Bob McDonnell did most definitely discuss loans and terms with Williams on several occasions.

Here’s what Bacon, Goldman and Rozell wrote:

“Prosecutors conceded Maureen McDonnell had personally asked Williams for the loan on May 2, 2011. She promised to reciprocate by helping Star. Williams testified understanding she spoke solely for herself, not her husband. Virginia’s first lady is not a public official under federal anti-corruption laws. While disgraceful, this two-way deal did not break the law.

“The Star pitchman personally delivered a $50,000 check payable to her on May 23 when they met at the Executive Mansion. Gov. McDonnell swore he didn’t learn about the check until two weeks afterwards. The prosecution self-evidentially believed it crucial to show his knowledge prior to her accepting the money.

“During testimony, Williams said he couldn’t remember when he spoke to the governor, or even whether he had spoken by telephone or in person. But he remained adamant, saying, “I am not writing his wife any checks without him knowing about it.”

But wait, here’s Trip Gabriel in the New York Times reporting about ANOTHER loan nearly one year later.

“Mr. Dry, who has led the federal investigation for 16 months, began the timeline with Mr. McDonnell’s own notes on a legal pad from Feb. 3, 2012, when he was negotiating a loan from Mr. Williams of Star Scientific.

“That initial deal was for 50,000 shares of Star Scientific stock, at $3.15 a share, worth more than $150,000, to be paid back with the repurchase of 50,000 shares at $1.90 a share. In other words, Mr. McDonnell would have had to repay a $150,000 loan with $90,000, after he was out of office, according to his own notes.

“Five days later, an aide to Mr. McDonnell sent an email saying Ms. McDonnell and the governor “were going over the list last night for the health care industry event.” The email indicated that both wanted Mr. Williams and his company at the event, where they could mix with university researchers in Virginia.

“On Feb. 9, Ms. McDonnell emailed her husband about potential clinical trials at the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University. “Here’s the info from Jonnie. He has calls into VCU, UVA and no one will return his calls,” she wrote.

“On Feb. 10, Ms. McDonnell emailed Jasen Eige, the governor’s senior policy adviser and lawyer, saying, “Gov wants to know why nothing has developed with studies.” Mr. McDonnell said he wanted no such thing.

“At 12:02 a.m., Feb. 17, Mr. McDonnell emailed Mr. Eige: “please see me about Anatabloc issues at VCU and UVA.” Four minutes later, the lawyer responded, “will do,” and added, “We need to be careful with this issue.”

“On Feb. 18, Mr. McDonnell personally emailed Mr. Williams to resume loan negotiations.

“Then on Feb. 29, Mr. McDonnell and Mr. Williams held a private meeting ostensibly on the health care leaders’ meeting that night. But the subject was the loan, which was growing more favorable. Mr. Williams offered 52,000 shares of Star Scientific, valued that day at $3.75 — a $187,000 offer, to be repaid with 50,000 shares repurchased at $2.20 a share, or $110,000.

“That night, less than five hours later, Mr. Williams was back at the Governor’s Mansion for the health care leaders’ meeting.

“Mr. McDonnell said the terms of the loan were of no consequence, since ultimately the stock loan fell through and he took $50,000 in cash for his real estate company, known as MoBo.

“Mr. Dry, if you are suggesting I got a $50,000 loan for MoBo in order to get Mr. Williams’ calls returned, you’re completely off base,” a prickly Mr. McDonnell snapped at one point.”

Hmm. Let’s see. We have one loan in 2011 apparently without Bob and another in 2012 with Bob (not to mention the golf bag, Ferrari, vacations, golf jackets, and so forth.)

The three authors have made a serious error by cherry picking one of several loans involving the McDonnells and Williams and making, forgive the pun, a federal case out of it. Flop goes their argument.

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3 responses to “FLOP! Goes Their Argument”

  1. Short response to Peter’s main argument (pulled from the post that follows this one):

    Why was Williams’ story so critical to the prosecution? Because the next solo, face-to-face meeting between the two men didn’t take place until March 2012, when Williams handed over two checks totaling $70,000 to help with the governor’s real estate investment — after the McDonnells had performed most of their favors, such as they were, for Star Scientific. The prosecution linked that meeting to only one subsequent favor performed by the governor: initiating a meeting with the Secretary of Administration to discuss how Anatabloc might help reduce costs of the Virginia state employee health plan. That meeting, incidentally, led to nothing.

    For all practical purposes, McDonnell stopped doing Star Scientific any favors after setting up that one meeting. Without William’s testimony about the May 23rd meeting, there was nothing to link the parade of favors – setting up meetings with government officials, attending Star Scientific events, the kind of things that governors routinely did – with Williams’ gifts and loans.

  2. billsblots Avatar

    McDonnell’s decisions as a state employee, THE state employee, are dumbfounding.
    Even lowlifes like me who have minimal purchase authority with Commonwealth funds have to document any possible conflict of interest with annual Statement of Economic Interest forms. I don’t let manufacturers’ reps buy my $6 lunch or even the associated tips.
    I don’t think McDonnell went into political life to extract personal financial gain, unlike many many politicians who precisely do that, nor did what’s-his-face Slimeball receive much actual or perceived benefit from his unusual and creepy obsession with the McDonnells, but it was enough to compromise the former Governor, and his eventual succumbing to the fat stacks of cash thrown at his wife, at his family and at him still disgust me.

  3. Russell Davis Avatar
    Russell Davis

    Virginia law VA18.2-111 is more to your point and ONE of McDonnell’s felonies.

    In VA, under VA18.2-111, when a person receives a gift or ANYTHING of value (i.e. utility) (whether tangible or intangible)
    (whether in any degree durable or ephemeral – so long as temporal)
    (and that ANYTHING is a private good and not a public good [i.e., a good whose value increases the more widely it is possessed – such as the rule of law)
    from someone other than their employer
    that they received by virtue of their holding an office belonging to their employer
    then that thing received belongs to their office not to their person.
    If the receiver converts the ‘gift’ to their personal property then they have, according to VA statute, perpetrated embezzlement and larceny.
    Custom does not make it less of a felony – Regarding criminal intent: Bob McDonnell knew the law and knew that he was deemed to know the law by the law – as are ALL officers or the VA Supreme Court (i.e. lawyers). ‘Esquire’ Bob McDonnell’s conclusively evidenced in public record root felony is a presumption that he is so important that “Resisting the execution of the laws under the color of its authority” [VA18.2-481(5) Statutory Treason] is his prerogative and is the prerogative of all people of his ‘noble’ class.

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