Sanctity of marriage defender and GOP former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is being tried for corruption and according to testimony presented yesterday by his lawyers, his own marriage was a sham because his wife was in love with the man accused of bribing them. And since their marriage was in shambles, say their lawyers, they could not have colluded in the scheme.
The McDonnells are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in loans, designer clothes, vacations and a Rolex watch from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific. If convicted, they could face decades in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber said during opening statements that McDonnell and his wife betrayed the public’s trust by lining their pockets with “secret gifts and cash.” McDonnell, a once-rising star in the Republican party who left office in January, had a duty “not to sell the power and influence of his office to the highest bidder,” Aber said. Attorneys for the McDonnells told jurors the governor did what any of his predecessors would do for a Virginia-based company. They questioned Williams’ character and said the couple couldn’t have been scheming together because their marriage was falling apart. Maureen McDonnell’s lawyer, William A. Burck, said the former first lady was “duped” by Williams into thinking he cared for her and she and her husband were pretending to be a happy couple. “They were barely on speaking terms,” Burck said.
McDonnell is expected to testify in his own defense and reportedly will read an email in which he begged his wife to “work things out” with him.