Former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen have been indicted on 14 counts of federal charges of accepting illegal gifts from Virginia business executive Jonnie Williams, the CEO of nutritional supplement company Star Scientific. The indictments allege honest services fraud, obstruction and false statements.
A list of items (see image below) included in the indictment alleges the McDonnells received $140,000, designer clothes, a Rolex, electronics, golf equipment and paintings.
Authorities involved in the investigation claim that Williams gave the gifts and cash to the then first family of Virginia in exchange for special treatment favoring his company.
“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. We did not violate the law,” he said.
McDonnell’s successor, newly elected democrat Terry McAuliffe, issued a statement shortly after the charges were filed:
“As this case progresses, it is my sincerest hope that justice will be served and that Virginians get the answers to which they are entitled,” he said. “As Governor, I will remain focused on leading this Commonwealth in a way that restores Virginians’ trust in government and honors their expectation of transparency and accountability.”
Detailed list of gifts from page 42 of the indictment:
The McDonnells also found themselves embroiled in financial scandal in July of last year as the Washington Post reported then first lady Maureen McDonnell bought nearly $9,800 in clothing with money from her husband’s political action committee and tapped into his campaign and inaugural funds to buy $7,600 in mostly unspecified items, according to records and a representative for the PAC.
That spending was considered legal under Virginia’s campaign finance laws which prohibit the conversion of political funds for private use only when a PAC or campaign committee disbands — not while it is operating.
The current indictment was brewing even at that time last year as federal and state investigators were already probing the Star Scientific executive’s ties to the McDonnells, who supposedly promoted his firm’s nutritional supplement, Anatabloc.