RICHMOND, Va.— The former governor of Virginia expressed shock over his conviction late last week on 11 counts of conspiracy, bribery, and extortion.
“If I could go back in time and correct my mistakes, I would,” declared Bob McDonnell on the steps of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. “I really should have offered the jury a bigger bribe.”
After three days of deliberations, the jury returned the “paltry offer” submitted by the defendants and pronounced McDonnell and his wife guilty on charges related to an alleged scheme to sell the governor’s office for $120,000 in sweetheart loans and tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts.
“At this point the public is so suspicious of politicians, cutting a politician slack is nothing they can rely on,” said a friend of the governor’s and former state congressman. “Trading influence for a Rolex is forgivable in the Commonwealth, but no jury is going to accept a truly laughable defense for a measly 100 bucks.”
“It’s just not the Virginia way,” said one juror. “That works out to less than $9 per juror. Heck, each of us gets $40 a day from the court just to attend. Come on.”
Things may have “gone down differently,” said the juror, “if they had offered me some of the $20,000 worth of gifted designer dresses and shoes” that Maureen McDonnell accepted from the vitamin executive Jonnie Williams Sr.
“After seeing the McDonnells’ bribe, you can bet there were 12 angry men and women in the jury room,” she added.
According to a lawyer for the former governor, the couple spent most of their time arguing over how much to bribe the jurors.
“Their bickering left little time to formulate an actual defense,” said Henry Arbuck of the law firm Arbuck and Associates. And so was borne the unusual argument that the couple had been incapable of collusion, on account of an irreconcilably broken marriage.
The defense also emphasized that, however the federal justice system may have interpreted the couple’s behavior, none of what they did was illegal under Virginia’s lax ethics laws.
Mr. McDonnell, who plans to appeal, indicated that he drew strength from his 38 years of marriage to get through these difficult times.
“And you can bet that he’s going to draw more heavily on his savings account when he cuts a check to the judge on appeal,” claimed Arbuck.