Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted January 21 on federal corruption charges. McDonnell, a Republican, left office earlier this month when he was succeeded by Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
A grand jury for the Eastern District of Virginia handed up a 14-count, 43-page indictment alleging honest-services wire fraud, conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right, false statements, and obstruction of official proceeding.
The indictment includes a colorfully descriptive list of items subject to forfeiture, including a Silver Rolex Watch engraved with "71st Governor of Virginia"; one baby blue striped Peter Millar golf shirt; one Heather Mackenzie water color and frame; two pairs of Foot Joy golf shoes; black Rebecca Minkoff shoes; and 30 boxes of Anatabloc®, the dietary supplement at the center of the scandal that has come to be known as “Giftgate.”
Politicians in Richmond were quick to react to news of the indictment.
State Senator Donald McEachin, a veteran Democratic legislator, stated succinctly in a news release: “Today is a sad day for the Commonwealth of Virginia. If nothing else, this speaks to the urgent need for comprehensive ethics reform.”
House Republicans react
Another news release issued by the Republican leadership in the House of Delegates (in the names of Speaker of the House William J. Howell, House Majority Leader M Kirkland Cox, GOP Caucus Chair Tim Hugo, and House Majority Whip Jackson Miller) said:
"We are very disappointed by the news today. We have all known Bob McDonnell for a long time. He is a good friend whom we deeply respect. He has served his country and Commonwealth for nearly his entire adult life. We know that he has always strived to serve with the utmost conviction and integrity. Admittedly, he has made mistakes in judgment. He has apologized for those actions, which we know all Virginians deeply appreciate.
"We are a nation of laws. We believe in the rule of law and are confident in the ability of our legal system to render the rightful judgment, whatever it may be. That process must be allowed to run its course without interference or impediment.”
Senate Republicans react
From the Senate Republicans came a news release with statements by Majority Leader Tommy Norment and GOP Caucus Chair Ryan McDougle.
Said Norment: “As with any case in the early stages of the judicial process, we should avoid a rush to judgment. We have a deliberate system of justice to ensure the truth – the complete truth – has an opportunity to prevail. That system must be allowed to operate as it was intended, unimpeded by either sensationalism or partisanship.”
“While this news is cause for disappointment, it is not one for despair,” said McDougle. “Over the weeks to come, all of the elements of this case will be subjected to the scrutiny inherent to our system of justice. All citizens should reserve judgment concerning this matter until all of the facts are known and the judicial process is given the chance to work.”
As for McDonnell, he promised in statement that he and his wife will fight the charges:
“We did not violate the law,” he said, “and I will use every available resource and advocate I have for as long as it takes to fight these false allegations, and to prevail against this unjust overreach of the federal government."