How the Scandal Started


There is a fascinating tidbit in the Washington Post article today about Todd Schneider, former executive chef at the Governor’s Mansion, that has gone largely unremarked upon. It may have been reported before, but I had not taken note of it, and I don’t believe anyone else has either. Before I explain, let me ask a question: How did the Giftgate controversy get started? Do you recall reading that anywhere?

Here’s the story: Schneider ran a catering business on the side, but state rules prohibited payment to him for work he performed on big mansion events in his capacity as caterer. He was told to take food from the mansion as reimbursement. In February 2012, law enforcement agents showed up at his door. They were investigating a tip to a state fraud hotline that reported Schneider had been taking food from the mansion. Schneider has been told that the tip came from a former employee of his catering business.

Think what that employee set into motion. Schneider came under investigation and then was fired. At some point, he began dishing dirt on the relationship between the McDonnells and Jonnie Williams. And the scandal mushroomed from there.

Somewhere out there is an unknown catering employee who made that hot-line call, having absolutely no idea it would balloon into one of the biggest political scandals in Virginia history. I can’t help wonder who that person is and what he or she thinks his or her role in transforming the political culture of the Old Dominion.


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7 responses to “How the Scandal Started”

  1. Breckinridge Avatar

    The tipster didn’t transform anything, the tipster revealed something.

  2. Breckinridge Avatar

    It remains to be seen whether the rest of us will push to transform anything.

  3. wait. let’s go back. why was he not allowed to be paid for catering events?

    and more important – on whose orders did he receive instructions to cater anyhow and take food?

    you want someone to “dish dirt” on you??? tell them to do something then hide when the law starts asking questions.

    someone told him to do this – and when the law came calling – they left him to swing in the wind and he did get pissed.

    the only thing I find fascinating about this is the sheer dumb judgement used in the Gov mansion..

    would YOU tell someone to take food or ANYTHING in lieu of payment?

    why in the world would someone whose judgement you trust to run the state (and that includes his advisors and wife) to do such stupid things?

    this is a guy who thought he was Presidential material… can you imagine what would have happened in the White House with him and Maureen and his idiot advisors running amok?

    good lord!

    he and Maureen should write a “How to fall on your sword for Dummies” book.

  4. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Not sure there was anything greatly revelatory in the recent story that the Post hadn’t reported before.

    If your goal is to assert that the entire thing is a sham because a whistleblower ratted on Schneider you are poaching the wrong egg. Also, my understanding was that Schenider had been fired a few months before what you say.

    1. “If your goal is to assert that the entire thing is a sham…”

      No, that’s not my goal, and there is no way a reasonable person could read that into my post.

      I’m simply pointing out an obscure fact on how the whole thing got started. It’s kind of like chaos theory at work. A butterfly in the Amazon flaps its wings and sets into motion a chain of causality that creates a typhoon in Japan, that sort of thing.

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    You did not answer my question. Also re: comnent “did you
    Reading that anywhere?”
    Yes, it has been part if the public narrative for ,onths. Too bad you missed it

  6. The “chef” was central to the disclosure from the get go. What might
    be a “surprise” to some is how the Chef entered into an agreement with
    people at the Gov office to “take food” as payment for catering events.

    I don’t think it’s “chaos” at all.. there are direct linkages and connections to the whole affair – not the least of which is the just plain ignorant machinations of the folks who ran the Gov office and a Gov who either was in on it himself or looking the other way on purpose or just totally out of touch with the things his own staff and wife were doing.

    this was not a “miscalculation” that got out of control and went “wild”. These were purposeful and calculated actions – that were just totally lacking in ethical behavior.

    One wonders what the people who were involved in this – do for a living otherwise when they’re not “helping out” the gov.

    and my condemnation is not partisan here. I would have the same if not stronger feelings if Kaine or Warner were dumb enough to do something like this… you EXPECT someone who is a Senator or a Governor to have GOOD JUDGEMENT… a fundamental requirement for that job.

    It’s not the fact that he took a roylex or told the chef to take food – as bad as that was – it’s the idea that the guy making those judgements if also making judgements about other decisions in the state. THAT’s the problem.

    You may recall a guy named Robb or one named Allen who showed poor judgement also…

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