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Tag: governor

News Virginian: No Jail Time for Former Gov. McDonnell Doesn’t Mean He Escapes Disgrace

Ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell

Ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell

By Editorial Board
The News Virginian

After four years of dragging Virginia and his family through the mud with tawdry tales of what any layman would recognize as bribery, it turns out the punishment of former Gov. Bob McDonnell will not be prison time, but abject disgrace.

That’s the effect of the Justice Department’s decision last week to drop the official corruption case against McDonnell, despite recommendations by federal prosecutors in Virginia, who still believed they could secure a felony conviction against him.

The case’s resolution also lifts the threat of further prosecution against McDonnell’s wife, Maureen, whose brief tenure as Virginia’s first lady endowed her with a titanic sense of entitlement.

The Justice Department’s decision follows a decision by the Supreme Court in June vacating McDonnell’s conviction and leaving prosecutors with little realistic chance of securing a conviction under the court’s crabbed definition of official corruption.

The court’s ruling provides comfort for future sticky-fingered politicians, who will find it easier to line their pockets while leading supplicants and suitors by the nose. The McDonnells’ story is as hackneyed as any in America’s lurid history of political graft. A politician of some talent and unobjectionable views, whose good looks and respectable bearing are judged worthy by voters, is elevated by stages to lofty office. Once installed, he performs his official duties competently while, hidden from public view, he rubs shoulders with a conga line of well-heeled, solicitous and ethically agnostic favor seekers.

In the McDonnells’ case, one of them, businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., saw advantage in plying the first couple with tens of thousands of dollars in loans, gifts, favors and vacations, a potpourri of generosity in return for which he clearly hoped for favorable state treatment for his company’s tobacco-based nutritional supplement.

To read more click here. 

Justice Department Drops Charges Against Ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

Ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell

Ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison in 2014 for allegedly accepting gifts from a businessman promoting a tobacco-based dietary supplement.

But his sentence was on hold as he appealed the case.

Now, the Justice Department is dismissing the 11 felony counts after the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 in June that prosecutors mishandled the case by mixing evidence of illegal activity with routine courtesies, Politico reports. 

The Justice Department said the Supreme Court has made it too difficult to retry McDonnell.

McDonnell and his family went on vacations and received gifts and loans valued at $177,999 from the dietary supplement businessman, Johnnie Williams.

The Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors failed to show that McDonnell intended to provide help to William in exchange for gifts and loans.

“After carefully considering the Supreme Court’s recent decision and the principles of federal prosecution, we have made the decision not to pursue the case further,” said a statement issued Thursday by the Justice Department. “The department thanks the trial team and its investigative partners for their outstanding work on this case.”

McDonnell’s legal team applauded the victory.

“We have said from the very first day that Bob McDonnell is an innocent man. After a long ordeal traversing the entire legal system, that truth has finally prevailed. We are thrilled Governor McDonnell can finally move on from the nightmare of the last three years and begin rebuilding his life,” McDonnell lawyers Hank Asbill, John Brownlee and Noel Francisco said in a statement.

April Supreme Court Cases Include Conviction of Ex-Virginia Governor

By Ross Parker
ticklehthewire.com

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in four difficult criminal cases on the April docket. All without the incisive, biting and entertaining interrogation of Justice Scalia. But last month Justice Thomas asked his first question in more than a decade. That must have raised some eyebrows.

One of the highest profile cases of the term, McDonnell v. United States, will be among those argued. Bob McDonnell was the popular governor of Virginia, and his name had been mentioned as a Vice Presidential running mate. Probably not any more since his prosecution for bribery.

Gov. Bob McDonnell

Gov. Bob McDonnell

His financial problems led him and his wife to seek various loans and gifts valued at over $175,000 from a businessman who was promoting a dietary supplement under review by the FDA. The gifts included a $20,000 shopping spree by Mrs. McDonnell, a former Washington Redskins cheerleader. Not that I hold anything against former cheerleaders (some of my best friends…), but she does seem to be at the center of both the “quid” and the “quo” of this sordid affair.

The issue before the Court is whether the Hobbs Act felony of agreeing to take “official action” in exchange for something of value by exercising actual government power (i.e. bribery) was proven in the case, as opposed to merely providing routine political courtesies, benefits and access to others.

The evidence at trial included the following “official acts” by the governor, all around the time that the McDonnells were receiving their goodies: asking the Secretary of Health to send an aide to a meeting where Mrs. McDonnell and the businessman could pitch the product; attending a luncheon arranged by Mrs. McDonnell where  the businessman gave two state medical schools $200,000 to research the product; sending an ambiguous email (at Mrs McDonnell’s request) to a staffer regarding the medical school’s lack of responsiveness; inviting the businessman to a reception for the “Health Care Leaders”; and finally suggesting a meeting to discuss whether the product could be included in the state employee health plan. Note the First Lady’s involvement. Cherchez la femme

None of these actions by the governor resulted in any specific benefit to the businessman. Nor did the governor make any request or order that a government official do anything other than exercise his/her independent judgment. McDonnell said that he was doing nothing more than helping a state business and extending political courtesies.

The Solicitor General argues that at least some of the actions amounted to personal benefits conferred in exchange for an agreement to influence government matters. But McDonnell’s supporters filed more than a dozen briefs which warn that the expansion of the statute to include this kind of conduct will create an ill-defined situation where aggressive federal prosecutors could criminalize what has been merely political custom.

Read more »

Parker: April Supreme Court Cases Include Conviction of Ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

By Ross Parker
ticklehthewire.com

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in four difficult criminal cases on the April docket. All without the incisive, biting and entertaining interrogation of Justice Scalia. But last month Justice Thomas asked his first question in more than a decade. That must have raised some eyebrows.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

One of the highest profile cases of the term, McDonnell v. United States, will be among those argued. Bob McDonnell was the popular governor of Virginia, and his name had been mentioned as a Vice Presidential running mate. Probably not any more since his prosecution for bribery.

His financial problems led him and his wife to seek various loans and gifts valued at over $175,000 from a businessman who was promoting a dietary supplement under review by the FDA. The gifts included a $20,000 shopping spree by Mrs. McDonnell, a former Washington Redskins cheerleader. Not that I hold anything against former cheerleaders (some of my best friends…), but she does seem to be at the center of both the “quid” and the “quo” of this sordid affair.

The issue before the Court is whether the Hobbs Act felony of agreeing to take “official action” in exchange for something of value by exercising actual government power (i.e. bribery) was proven in the case, as opposed to merely providing routine political courtesies, benefits and access to others.

Ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell

Ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell

The evidence at trial included the following “official acts” by the governor, all around the time that the McDonnells were receiving their goodies: asking the Secretary of Health to send an aide to a meeting where Mrs. McDonnell and the businessman could pitch the product; attending a luncheon arranged by Mrs. McDonnell where  the businessman gave two state medical schools $200,000 to research the product; sending an ambiguous email (at Mrs McDonnell’s request) to a staffer regarding the medical school’s lack of responsiveness; inviting the businessman to a reception for the “Health Care Leaders”; and finally suggesting a meeting to discuss whether the product could be included in the state employee health plan. Note the First Lady’s involvement. Cherchez la femme

None of these actions by the governor resulted in any specific benefit to the businessman. Nor did the governor make any request or order that a government official do anything other than exercise his/her independent judgment. McDonnell said that he was doing nothing more than helping a state business and extending political courtesies.

The Solicitor General argues that at least some of the actions amounted to personal benefits conferred in exchange for an agreement to influence government matters. But McDonnell’s supporters filed more than a dozen briefs which warn that the expansion of the statute to include this kind of conduct will create an ill-defined situation where aggressive federal prosecutors could criminalize what has been merely political custom.

Read more »

Oregon Governor Urges Feds to ‘End Occupation’ of Wildlife Refuge

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Oregon’s governor said she’s fed up with federal authorities’ leniency with an armed militia’s occupation of a national wildlife refuge.

Gov. Kate Brown said the time has come for the feds to “move quickly to end the occupation and hold all of the wrongdoers accountable.”

“The residents of Harney County have been overlooked and underserved by federal officials’ response thus far. I have conveyed these very grave concerns directly to our leaders at the highest levels of our government: the U.S. Department of Justice and the White House,” Brown said.

Saying the occupation has cost state taxpayers nearly a half million dollars, Brown said she’ll be “asking federal officials to reimburse the state for these costs.”

Federal authorities so far have left the occupiers alone to avoid provoking a confrontation.

Other Stories of Interest

Maryland Lawmaker Proposes Ban on Firearms for People on Terrorism Watch Lists

Rep. Chris Van Hollen

Rep. Chris Van Hollen

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Maryland is at least the second state pursing a ban on firearm sales to people on the federal terrorism watch lists.

The Associated Press reports that state Rep. Chris Van Hollen is asking the governor to “explore every possible state action” to prevent guns from getting into the hands of terrorists.

Van Hollen, a Democrat, sent the letter to Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, on Thursday, the same day the Connecticut governor said he would sign an executive order banning people from the no-fly list from purchasing firearms.

President Obama said Sunday that he supports a similar measure on the federal level.

Other Stories of Interest

Is Texas Trying to Create Own Border Patrol? Governor to Spend $800M

Greg Abbott

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The new Republican governor of Texas is spending a whopping $800 million for border security over the next two years, raising questions about his intentions.

The Associated Press reports that Gov. Greg Abbott more than doubled the amount spent by his predecessor, Rick Perry.

Included on the shopping list is a$7.5-million high-altitude plane designed to scan the border.

The spending is unprecedented by a border state, according to the AP.

Abbott said he is just protecting Texas residents from criminals such as dangerous cartel members.

“The first obligation of government is to keep people safe and that means ensuring that this ongoing cartel activity, which is not abating whatsoever, gains no root at all in the state of Texas,” Abbott said.

No Evidence Found to Prove NJ Gov. Christie Knew in Advance of Lane Closures on George Washington Bridge

Gov. Chris Christie/state photo

Chris Christie

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has found no evidence that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew in advance of traffic lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, the New York Daily News reports.

The investigation is nine-months old, and no evidence has surfaced to suggest Christie was involved in what has brome known as the Bridgegate scandal.

The lane shutdowns caused serious problems for commuters.

It was later discovered that Christie’s staffer and a Port Authority officials were elated, raising questions about whether the shutdown was political payback for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee not endorsing Christie.

Other Stories of Interest