Former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were charged in federal court Tuesday for accepting more than $135,000 in gifts from a local businessman, in exchange for political favors.
Filed Tuesday, the indictment charged the McDonnells for accepting gifts from a political donor, including luxury vacations and large loans from Jonnie R. Williams, Sr., the former chief executive of supplements manufacturer Star Scientific, over two years. In return, the McDonnells used their political clout to bolster sales of Star Scientific’s dietary supplements. The couple was charged with 14 felony accounts, including wire fraud and obtaining property under color of their official office.
“I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell promised to return “tangible” gifts from Williams in July when he first apologized for the scandal. The Washington Post reports that McDonnell has repaid a $50,000 loan Williams gave to his wife and $70,000 Williams made to a McDonnell-owned business.
Current governor Terry McAuliffe said he was “troubled by the charges” but sent his “thoughts and prayers” to the entire McDonnell family.
“This is a sad day for Virginia,” McAufliffe noted. “But I remain optimistic that we can work together to reform our system in order to prevent episodes like this from occurring ever again.”