- Just a few years ago, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell was a rising GOP star, selected to give the Republican response to President Obama's 2010 State of the Union address and touted as a future presidential candidate. But behind the scenes, his family was in debt. Enter Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Star Scientific, a supplement company that wanted whatever help it could get touting its latest product, an anti-inflammatory called Anatabloc. Round about now, the McDonnells are surely wishing they had never met the guy.
- But at the time, he looked like just what they needed. At a meeting in New York after McDonnell's victory at the polls, Williams offered to help the soon-to-be First Lady Maureen McDonnell purchase a dress for the upcoming inaugural. "I need to talk to you about Inaugural clothing budget," she later emailed one of Williams' staff members. "I need answers and Bob is screaming about the thousands I’m charging up in credit card debt. We are broke, have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt already, and this Inaugural is killing us!! I need answers and I need help, and I need to get this done."
- According to the prosecutors who unveiled an indictment of Bob and Maureen McDonnell yesterday, over the next few years, Jonnie Williams became a veritable Santa Claus for the couple, showering them with gifts and cash.
- And what gifts they were! According to the indictment, Williams took Maureen on a whirlwind shopping trip in New York, in which he "spent approximately $10,999 at Oscar de la Renta, approximately $5,685 at Louis Vuitton, and approximately $2,604 at Bergdorf Goodman." Then there was the $50,000 loan and the $15,000 "wedding gift" for the McDonnells' daughter. And the golf outings. And the Rolex for the Governor. And the trips on Williams's private jet. And the vacation at Williams's lake house.
- This last includes a particularly colorful detail. From the indictment: "Maureen McDonnell had previously called JW [Jonnie Williams] to ask whether JW's Ferrari would be at the house for Robert McDonnell's use. JW arranged to have a Star Scientific employee transport the Ferrari from Richmond to his Smith Mountain Lake house so that the defendants could use the Ferrari during their vacation. In addition, JW rented a boat specifically for the defendants' use during the vacation." The indictment does not mention whether Turtle and Drama were also present at the lake house.
- During this period, the McDonnells were regularly speaking at Star Scientific events and promoting Anatabloc to all manner of officials and agencies within the state. They also acquired a substantial amount of Star Scientific stock, which would no doubt have increased their fervent wish for the success of this fine Virginia business. But for his part, the former governor says the entire case rests on a "misguided legal theory."
- McDonnell does have a keen eye for critical legal distinctions; as a master's student at Pat Robertson's Regent University, he wrote a thesis condemning the 1972 Supreme Court decision that struck down state laws making contraception illegal, and said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators."
- This is hardly a proud day for Virginia, but they've got nothing on Illinois, where four of the last seven governors have wound up behind bars.
- And in case you're wondering, Anatabloc, which can be injested or rubbed about your person, is still available. You might consider the Wellness Bundle, which includes both the Revitalizing Facial Serum and the Rare Cellular Facial Creme, plus a box of Anatabloc lozenges, all for the amazing price of just $439.99. If you pass up this offer, maybe you should be indicted!
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