McDonnell’s lawyers attack charges in corruption case
- January 23, 2014
Attorneys defending Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, against corruption charges say the federal government “concocted a never-before-used legal theory” prosecuting the former governor.
In motions filed late Tuesday in federal court, McDonnell’s lawyers assert he is an innocent public official being pursued by overzealous prosecutors.
During his four-year term that ended in January, McDonnell’s family received gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams Sr., the former CEO of Star Scientific Inc. The Glen Allen-based company, which has lost money for more than a decade, recently switched from making tobacco products to producing dietary supplements and cosmetics based on an alkaloid found in tobacco and other plants.
McDonnell has publicly apologized for poor judgment in his relationship with Williams and the embarrassment the scandal has caused the commonwealth. The former governor, however, has staunchly contended that Williams and his company received “not one penny” of state money in return. McDonnell says he treated Star Scientific in the same manner he would any Virginia-based company.
A federal grand jury handed up a 14-count indictment Monday after a lengthy investigation prompted by the revelation that Williams had paid for the Executive Mansion wedding reception for one of the McDonnell’s daughters.
The list of gifts and loans included a Rolex watch for McDonnell, a New York shopping spree for his wife, family vacations, golf outings and $120,000 in loans.
McDonnells’ lawyers contend that prosecutors failed to discover any evidence of bribery.
“Bob McDonnell is an innocent man,” the one of the motions says. “He never entered into an illegal agreement with Mr. Jonnie Williams or Star Scientific, nor did he ever promise or provide them any official benefits…
“Yet rather than discontinue its investigation upon uncovering only innocence, the government decided to invent an unprecedented legal theory that eradicates all limitations on federal bribery law,” the motion says. “That theory would — if applied neutrally — outlaw basic political practices, making criminals of not only the President [Barack Obama], but also the Governor’s Democratic predecessor [Sen. Tim Kaine]."
Those “political practices” include elected officials participating in corporate events, inviting political benefactors to official events and including benefactors in policy discussions, the motion says.
The motion also hints at political bias by prosecutors, saying the governor’s race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli took place in the “shadow” of damaging leaks to the press about the investigation. These leaks “effectively sidelined” McDonnell in a tight contest ultimately won by McAuliffe.
The motion asks for the disclosure of all instructions given to the grand jury and any recordings of prosecutors’ statements to the grand jury.