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Tag: Virginia

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.

Federal Government Selects Site for FBI’s New Central Records Complex

Frederick County, Virginia, where feds are building a new structure for the FBI's records.

Frederick County, Virginia, where feds are building a new structure for the FBI’s records.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s new 256,000-square-foot Central Records Complex will be built in Frederick County.

The General Services Administration purchased the 59-acre site for $4.75 million. The feds plan to build a $109 million facility where more than 440 employees would work, Virginia Business reports. 

The idea is to streamline the FBI’s worldwide records management.

“The centralization of FBI records consolidates records from 265 current locations into a single facility,” Joanna Rosato, regional commissioner of GSA’s Public Buildings Service in the mid-Atlantic Region, said in a statement.  “The CRC will provide the infrastructure and technology for the FBI to continue to digitize records on demand.”

FBI Investigates $120,000 in Questionable Donations to Virginia Gov. McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating $120,000 in donations to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s campaign and inauguration.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the donation were made by Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang.

The governor’s attorney said McAuliffe and his staff were unaware of the investigation.

The lawyer, Marc Elias, said “contributions to the campaign from Mr. Wang were completely lawful. The governor will certainly cooperate with the government if he is contacted about it.’’

Wang’s companies also have donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Federal Government Seeks Public Input on New FBI Headquarters

FBI's headquarters is called the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

FBI’s headquarters is called the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

How should the FBI redevelop it new headquarters?

The National Capital Planning Commission is hosting two public meetings this week determine the best course of action, the Associated Press reports. 

The FBI plan to leave the J. Edgar Hoover Building and move to a new location in either Virginia or Maryland.

The first meeting is tonight.

Authorities are seeking guidance on the design, size and land use.

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 »

Congressional Bills Calls for $390M to Jumpstart FBI’s New Headquarters

Current FBI Headquarters

Current FBI Headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Congressional leaders proposed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that includes $390 million to build a new FBI headquarters, the Baltimore Sun reports.

“I’m fully behind the FBI and fully behind Prince George’s County as home to the new headquarters,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, the top Democrat on theSenate Appropriations Committee. “With more than 40 percent of FBI employees already living in Maryland, Prince George’s is the right place and has the right stuff.”

The bill, which is aimed at preventing a government shutdown, also includes modest pay raises for federal employees.

The FBI plans to leave its aging headquarters in downtown Washington D.C. and move to a new headquarters in Maryland or Virginia.

“The Hoover building is dated and dysfunctional,” Mikulski said. “It’s sinking, leaking and flooding and doesn’t even meet the FBI’s own security requirements. It’s too small for the FBI’s needs, so workers are scattered across 14 leased offices impeding efficiency and effectiveness.”

The $390 million would pay for design and pre-construction expenses. The total cost is expected to exceed $2 billion.

FBI Foils Alleged Plans by White Supremacists to Shoot Up, Bomb Church And Synagogues

fbi-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI said it has disrupted two men’s plans to shoot up or bomb churches and synagogues.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that FBI agents were posing as illegal arms dealers who received orders for guns and explosives from two men who were part of a white supremacy group.

The men, Robert C. Doyle, 34, of Chester, and Ronald Beasley Chaney III, 33, were charged  Monday in U.S. District Court in Richmond with attempting to buy the weapons from FBI agents.

“Doyle and Chaney and others known and unknown to the FBI, ascribe to a white supremacy extremist version of the Asatru faith (a pagan religion),” alleges a five-page affidavit from FBI Special Agent James R. Rudisill.

The agent said the plan was for Doyle and others to meet at Doyle’s house “to discuss acting out in furtherance of their extremist beliefs by shooting or bombing the occupants of black churches and Jewish synagogues, conducting acts of violence against persons of the Jewish faith, and doing harm to a gun store owner.”

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