The charges are contained in a federal indictment.
A Ferrari, a Rolex watch, designer clothes were the items the governor and his wife are accused of getting from star scientific CEO Johnnie Williams. But what did Williams get in return? In other words, where’s the crime?
“I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal friendship and his generosity,” said McDonnell.
But prosecutors say the McDonnells did plenty. The indictment spells out ,in 43 pages, a scheme lasting nearly two years in which the McDonnells used the governor`s office to “enrich the defendants and their family members” in exchange for McDonnell using his office to help star scientific.
How did it work?
October 2, 2010 Governor McDonnell flies to California on Johnnie Williams’ private jet. Prosecutors say Williams “used the trip as an opportunity to discuss Star Scientific`s products directly” with the governor and that McDonnell told Williams he would put him “in contact with the Virginia secretary of health and human resources.”
But prosecutors say that meeting apparently didn`t go well.
According to the indictment, the health secretary was “skeptical regarding JW`s claims because Star Scientific’s products have not been scientifically proven to be effective.”
The indictment claims Williams then stepped up his efforts to get the governor and his wife to personally support his company`s products.
In February of 2011, the McDonnell’s attended an event at Richmond`s Jefferson hotel, where McDonnell “made brief remarks in support of Star Scientific.”
Privately, according to court documents, the McDonnells told Williams they were having severe financial difficulties. Maureen McDonnell allegedly told Williams in May of 2011 in a private meeting at the governor`s mansion that “she could help Star Scientific, but needed JW`s financial help.”
She got it, according to the indictment, in the form of loans and lavish gifts to support a lifestyle the governor`s salary couldn`t. Even though McDonnell`s $175,000 a year paycheck made him one of the highest paid governors in the nation.
Prosecutors charge Maureen McDonnell then used money from Williams to pay down credit cards and invest in Star Scientific. The first lady also attended out of state meetings for investors and in one offered the governor`s mansion as “the location of Star Scientific`s official product launch” of a supplement Williams was trying to sell.
In a meeting on the state employee health plan in 2012 Governor McDonnell is accused of pulling some of the supplement called anatabloc out of his pocket and saying it ‘had beneficial health effects, that he personally took anatabloc, and that it was working well for him.”
But McDonnell claims he didn`t do anything other politicians don`t also do.
“If it were applied as the law of the land, then nearly every elected official from President Obama on down would have to be charged for providing tangible benefits to donors.”