BALTIMORE (WJZ) — He was seen by many as a GOP presidential contender but now the former governor of Virginia continues his fall from grace as he and his wife stand trial on allegations that they used the power of his office for their own personal financial gain.
Derek Valcourt has more on the political scandal rocking our neighbor state.
Jury selection is underway and now the governor is headed to court to defend his reputation and his very freedom against charges that could land him in jail for decades.
Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen will be tried together before a jury on a 14 count indictment that they illegally accepted over $165,000 worth of gifts and loans while in office—it’s a first of its kind case for the people of Virginia.
“We have a governor and a former first lady with the potential of actually going to jail,” said political analyst Bob Holsworth.
Federal prosecutors allege the McDonnells took $165,000 in loans and gifts from Johnny Williams, the then-CEO of Caomppany Star Scientific and, in return, helped him promote his health supplement products. Among the items Mrs. McDonnell received: a luxury shopping spree and Oscar de la Renta dresses. The governor got a Rolex watch, golf clubs and use of Williams’ Ferrari and more.
“It’s unclear if there was a quid pro quo. It’s unclear if this was even a nexus relationship. It’s unclear if Mr. Williams—and this is why his testimony will be so important—actually expected access,” said VCU Public Policy Department head Deidre Condit.
The McDonnells deny wrongdoing and defense attorneys will argue that the state’s star witness, Johnny Williams, has been granted immunity for his testimony.
“And the McDonnell defense believe that they are going to be able to impeach his testimony by arguing that he said it all, that he gave up the governor in order to get immunity for himself,” Holsworth said.
Family members, friends and former staffers are all expected to be called to testify in the case that could ultimately pit the McDonnells against each other in the blame game and even land them with separate verdicts.
The couple had asked to be tried separately; the request was denied. The governor is expected to testify in his own defense. Monday, federal prosecutors released a list of 61 witnesses they could call to testify at trial.
The case is expected to last five to six weeks.