Attorneys for Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are meeting holding separate meetings today to convince federal prosecutors that the first couple should not be charged in the gifts scandal involving Star Scientific that has dominated state politics.
The meetings are timed to help prosecutors decide over the next few weeks whether to file charges, according to the Washington Post.
The latest chapter in the ongoing scandal came over the weekend, when lawyers for the McDonnell family revealed Maureen McDonnell owned Star Scientific stock at various times between 2011 and 2012.
Federal authorities have been investigating whether McDonnell (R) agreed to take official actions to aid nutritional supplement company Star Scientific while accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and money from its chief executive, Jonnie R. Williams Sr.
The central issues for prosecutors are what precisely McDonnell may have said or offered to Williams on his own and how much the governor knew about his wife’s acceptance of gifts from Williams and her actions to help his company just as Star was launching a new product.
As the scandal has shined an uncomfortable spotlight on the governor’s marriage, McDonnell’s side has conveyed to authorities that his wife often purposely kept him in the dark about the largess she was accepting from Williams, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
Their goal with that assertion is to convince prosecutors that it would have been impossible for Williams’s gifts to have influenced the governor in his official duties because McDonnell learned of many only after his wife had accepted them.
Prosecutors will have to decide how credible they find those assertions when considered against the timeline of the first couple’s interactions with Williams and other evidence, including Williams’s recollections.
According to two people familiar with his version, Williams has countered the account from the governor’s side. He has told authorities that McDonnell frequently spoke with him about ways he and the state could help Star Scientific gain prestige and scientific endorsements for its new anti-inflammatory supplement.