Updates to come
A federal jury in Richmond has found former Gov. Bob McDonnell guilty on 11 of the 13 counts he faced, including all of the corruption charges, while it found Maureen McDonnell guilty on nine of the 13 counts facing her. The Virginian-Pilot has this handy chart for those interested on who was convicted of what.
Most people I’ve spoken to did not see such a sweeping verdict being handed down. At most, they were thinking a compromise verdict that dinged the McDonnells on something, but largely let them go on the corruption charges.
The defense team’s “crazy wife” defense — which Judge Spencer never liked — utterly failed to convince the jurors. Instead, the 12 people on the panel decided the McDonnells had a deal with Jonnie Williams. That set the conspiracy. Once they accepted its existence, the McDonnells had little chance of standing up to the other counts.
And it is worth recalling that McDonnells original legal team urged him to take a plea deal. He would have been forced to accept one felony count, and resign. His lawyers at the time reasoned that was his best option. He chose to fight. And both he and Maureen lost.
And of course, this will all be appealed.
Something to consider, from Chris Saxman:
Jury in McDonnell trial effectively places total gift ban in state executive and legislative branches. Appeal coming, but ban is permanent
— Chris Saxman (@saxman8091) September 4, 2014
A number of elected officials are weighing-in on the verdict, naturally. But perhaps the most politically shrewd comment comes from Mark Warner:
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) September 4, 2014
The Gillespie campaign? Nothing.
The Justice Department has released its statement, which reads in part:
“As Virginia’s governor, Robert McDonnell and his wife turned public service into a money-making enterprise, abusing the Commonwealth’s highest office to benefit a Virginia businessman in exchange for more than $170,000 in gifts and loans,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “In pursuit of a lifestyle that they could ill afford, McDonnell and his wife eagerly accepted luxury items, designer clothes, free vacations and the businessman’s offer to pay the costs of their daughter’s wedding. In return, McDonnell put the weight of the governor’s mansion behind the businessman’s corporate interests. The former governor was elected to serve the people of Virginia, but his corrupt actions instead betrayed them. Today’s convictions should send a message that corruption in any form, at any level of government, will not be tolerated.”
“This is a difficult and disappointing day for the Commonwealth of Virginia and its citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Boente. “When public officials turn to financial gain in exchange for official acts, we have no choice but to prosecute them. I thank the Assistant U.S. Attorneys, FBI, Virginia State Police, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation for their exceptional efforts in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”
“Corruption in any form, at any level of government, will not be tolerated.” If the verdict hasn’t already caused some clenching of teeth in Capitol Square, this line will do that and more.
And now there’s word from one of the jurors:
Juror on Facebook: verdict was "hardest decision of my life." Says facts, law clear but reaction of gov, family was "so very difficult."
— Rosalind Helderman (@PostRoz) September 4, 2014