Former Governor Bob McDonnell and former Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell failed today in their bid to have charges against them dismissed. This is a worrisome development for the McDonnells, as it means the federal judge handling that case has rejected—for now, at least—the McDonnells’ arguments that the prosecution’s case is based on a misinterpretation of applicable law. The ruling means that the case will head for trial starting July 28, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The McDonnells had argued that what they did for Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams that was supposedly in exchange for his lavish gifts to the couple did not rise to the level of “official” action under federal bribery legislation. Favors the former First Couple are alleged to have given Williams include opening the executive mansion for a Star Scientific product launch party, and introducing Williams to a top state health official. Today’s ruling is a rejection of the McDonnell’s arguments that, as a matter of law, such favors do not constitute official actions. It leaves open the possibility that the facts presented at trial will prove in some way that the McDonnells actions were “official.”
The judge also denied the McDonnells’ motion for separate trials. As WTOP reports,
Defense lawyers had also pressed for separate trials, saying Maureen McDonnell was willing to give testimony exonerating her husband at his trial. But they added that Maureen McDonnell is not willing to testify at a joint trial because it would hamper her defense on a separate obstruction of justice charge filed solely against her.
Spencer said the defense had only offered vague statements that didn’t show a compelling need for separate trials.
Possibly the most fascinating part of the judge’s rulings today were the subpoenas issued at the request of the defendants. Apparently, Gov. McDonnell is poised to offer the “everybody was doing it” defense. According to the RTD:
Another subpoena went to Mark Rubin, who served as senior adviser and counselor to then-Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.
Defense lawyers argue that McDonnell’s predecessors as governor, engaged in “indistinguishable conduct,” including Kaine receiving use of a Caribbean vacation home, valued at $18,000, from an investor whom he reappointed to the Virginia Commission on Higher Education Board Appointments.
Good luck with that one.
Though, it is odd, isn’t it, that only McDonnell has been skewered for this kind of conduct? Not to try to excuse such apparent corruption, but it does seem like an unfair application of the law when the Democrat skates free while the Republican sits in the dock.