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An appetite for gifts, loans and money.
Details from the indictment filed against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen on Tuesday are so far proving to be as ugly as expected.
The indictment against the McDonnells alleges that the couple accepted gifts from a wealthy businessman in return for political favors and that they were deep in debt even before they officially became Virginia's first couple.
In fact, according to court documents, the former Republican governor and his wife started soliciting money and gifts from pharmaceutical entrepreneur Jonnie Williams almost immediately after they moved into the governor's mansion. In return, the indictment alleges, the former governor promised he’d help Williams' company, Star Scientific.
Providing that the details of the 43-page indictment are correct, things are not looking good for a man once referred to as a possible Republican presidential contender for 2016.
Here are some of the more “sordid” details from the indictment, via the Washington Examiner:
1. The Dress
Maureen McDonnell in 2009 allegedly asked Williams if he could help her buy a dress for her husband's inauguration. Williams agreed to do this for her.
Maureen McDonnell reportedly told a senior staffer, known only as "JE," that Williams "had agreed to purchase a designer dress by Oscar de la Renta … for the inauguration."
It's important to note that Bob McDonnell wasn't governor yet when his wife was making this agreement with Williams.
Realizing that the entire situation was highly questionable, "JE" allegedly told Mrs. McDonnell that it was "inappropriate and should not be done," forcing the governor-elect's wife to temporarily abandon the idea.
Maureen McDonnell eventually sent the staffer, “JE,” the following email:
I need to talk to you about Inaugural clothing budget. 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.
Mrs. McDonnell later said she’d “take a rain check” on the dress offer.
Now, fast forward to the spring of 2011 and it looks like Maureen collected on that “rain check,” according to the indictment:
On or about April 11, 2011, MAUREEN MCDONNELL contacted JW and requested that he take her shopping in New York City for the designer dress by Oscar de la Renta. MAUREEN MCDONNELL explained that she and ROBERT MCDONNELL were attending a political event at the Union League Club in New York City on April 13, 2011, and that she would ensure that JW was seated next to ROBERT MCDONNELL at the event. JW agreed to pay for the shopping trip.
On or about April 13, 2011, JW accompanied MAUREEN MCDONNELL to several luxury stores in New York City, including Oscar de la Renta, Louis Vuitton, and Bergdorf Goodman. MAUREEN MCDONNELL informed JW that she needed dresses and accessories for her daughter's upcoming wedding and for her and ROBERT MCDONNELL'S upcoming anniversary party. JW paid for the entire luxury shopping trip for MAUREEN MCDONNELL and spent approximately $10,999 at Oscar de la Renta, approximately $5,685 at Louis Vuitton, and approximately $2,604 at Bergdorf Goodman. As promised by MAUREEN MCDONNELL, JW was seated next to ROBERT MCDONNELL at the Union League Club event later that evening.
2. The Mansion
Later, the McDonnells spent a few days at Williams’ mansion at Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake. From the indictment:
MAUREEN MCDONNELL had previously called JW 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. On or about July 31, 2011, at approximately 7:47 p.m., MAUREEN MCDONNELL sent an email to JW that contained no text but had an attached picture of ROBERT MCDONNELL driving JW's Ferrari.
3. I Like Your Watch
Things didn't get any better after the Ferrari photo incident. In fact, according to the indictment, Maureen McDonnell's appetite for gifts only intensified. From the court documents:
On or about August 1, 2011, MAUREEN MCDONNELL also met privately with JW. During the meeting, MAUREEN MCDONNELL noticed JW's watch and asked what brand it was. JW informed her that it was a Rolex. She informed JW that she would like to get one for ROBERT MCDONNELL because he would like a Rolex. JW expressed concern regarding whether ROBERT MCDONNEL Lwould actually wear such a luxury watch given his role as a senior government official. MAUREEN MCDONNELL told JW that she wanted JW to buy a Rolex for ROBERT MCDONNELL. JW subsequently bought a Rolex for ROBERT MCDONNELL. When JW contacted MAUREEN MCDONNELL to ask her what she wanted engraved on the watch, MAUREEN MCDONNELL instructed JW to have "71st Governor of Virginia" engraved on the back of the Rolex.
Keep in mind all of this was done on top of a no-paperwork loan of $50,000 Williams extended to the couple early in Bob McDonnell's term as governor. How did the former Virginia governor repay Williams for his generosity?
McDonnell reportedly used his position as governor to hold events promoting Williams' products. The former governor also reportedly put Williams in touch with state health officials.
From the indictment:
On or about March 21, 2012, ROBERT MCDONNELL met with the Virginia Secretary of Administration to discuss the Virginia state employee health plan and ways to reduce healthcare costs in Virginia. During the meeting, ROBERT MCDONNELL pulled some Anatabloc out of his pocket and told the Secretary of Administration and one of her staff members that Anatabloc had beneficial health effects, that he personally took Anatabloc, and that it was working well for him. ROBERT MCDONNELL asked the Secretary of Administration and her staff member to reach out to the "Anatabloc people" and meet with them to discuss Anatabloc.
There is much more where that came from, but the bottom line, according to the indictment, is this: The McDonnells as Virginia's first couple had an insatiable appetite for gifts, loans and money.
Read the full indictment here:
(H/T: Washington Examiner)
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
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