‘Friendly’ and kind of ‘flirty’ is how a former staff member described Maureen McDonnell and former Star Scientific CEO Johnnie Williams.
But when asked by investigators if Maureen and Williams were having an affair, Janet Kelly laughed.
The former cabinet secretary didn’t say much else about Mrs. McDonnell and Williams, although she did express her opinions about the former Governor and First Lady’s marriage.
The ‘substanance’ of their marriage, Kelly told defense teams, didn’t back up their public displays of affection.
As defense attorneys began their case Monday morning, they tried to strengthen the argument that the McDonnells were hardly on speaking terms when Mr. McDonnell took office. They used testimony to paint Maureen as unhappy in her position while her husband was dedicated to serving the state.
Kelly described the former First Lady as very ‘difficult’, ‘demanding’ and even ‘diva-ish’. She told defense attorneys mansion staff members threatened to walk out in mass at one point.
“There were some concerns she was suffering from mental illness,” Kelly explained.
On the other hand, Kelly said Bob McDonnell is one of the most ‘honest’ people she knows and his top priority as Governor was supporting Virginia companies and creating jobs.
The former Governor and First Lady are accused of conspiring together as part of a corrupt agreement.
Prosecutors say the couple accepted more than $177,000 in loans and gifts from Williams in exchange for promoting his dietary supplement.
While defense lawyers argue Williams was just a generous friend, they’re also trying to prove Maureen kept her husband in the dark.
The defense called several former cabinet secretaries to the stand Monday to try to establish the normalcy of meetings with constituents and to show there were other state funds available to help Star Scientific or Williams if the Governor really wanted to do that.
While all witnesses said McDonnell never asked them to do anything on behalf of Williams, his company or product, some also admitted to prosecutors they didn’t know about Williams’ personal loans to the McDonnells.
When questioned by prosecutors the former secretary of commerce said he’s not sure he would want to know if a constituent loaned the Governor money.
“We don’t care,” James Cheng told the court. Instead, he says his department is concerned with what’s best for Virginia businesses.
Prosecutors then pointed out Cheng donated $15,000 to the former Governor’s defense team.