Anti-gay GOP former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who routinely opposed LGBT rights in his state, was today charged with accepting illegal gifts from a local businessman.
McDonnell’s wife was also charged. Authorities alleged that for nearly two years, the McDonnells hit up executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. again and again, lodging near constant requests for large loans, clothes, trips, golf accessories and private plane rides. In exchange, authorities allege, the McDonnells worked in concert to lend the prestige of the governorship to Williams’ struggling company, a small former cigarette manufacturer that now sells dietary supplements. They said the first couple arranged access for the CEO to top state officials, allowed the historic governor’s mansion to be used for a launch party for his company’s new non-FDA approved pill and attended events designed to boost the company’s prestige with university scientists who might research the company’s product.
The McDonnells face 14 felony counts including wire fraud and lying to a financial institution. Mrs. McDonnell is additionally charged with obstruction of justice. The former governor has issued a statement.
“My fellow Virginians, earlier today federal prosecutors notified my attorneys that they have filed criminal charges against me and my wife Maureen, alleging that we violated federal law by accepting gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of Star Scientific,” he said. “I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment for which I take full responsibility. However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship.”