Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and his wife were charged on Tuesday in federal court with illegally accepting large loans, luxury vacations and expensive gifts from a businessman and prominent political donor.
A federal grand jury indicted the couple on 14 counts related to their decision to receive thousands of gifts and loans from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., an executive at dietary supplement company Star Scientific.
McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, could face prison sentences that amount to decades and fines of more than $1 million.
Prosecutors accuse the McDonnells of receiving items from Williams, who in return got special treatment from the governor’s office to help his company.
McDonnell’s indictment could have ramifications for other Virginia Republicans as well. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie, the GOP front-runner to face Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), previously served as McDonnell’s campaign chairman and as a senior adviser during his transition into office in 2009. Many members of his campaign team also worked for McDonnell in the past.
“It plays exactly into the ‘fixer’ narrative Democrats are pushing — ‘Republicans aren’t as honest as they sell themselves to be.’ They’re going to try to say Gillespie is cut from the same cloth as Bob McDonnell,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, who has worked on a number of Virginia races.