Imagine that you’re Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and your First Lady, Maureen McDonnell, comes skipping into the State Mansion’s Main dining room to present you with a spanking new $6,500.00 Rolex watch.
“Hey Honey, pass the butter,” Bob may have said, “and, by the way, can we afford this Rolex?”
“Oh, this little thing,” Maureen may have said, “I admired the one that Jonnie Williams, Jr. wore. Isn’t it so world leader-ish? You really should have one. Everyone will notice.”
“Yes, but how did we pay for it?” You’d imagine the Governor would ask that; any other spouse would, even with a public salary of $175,000.
“Why, silly, it’s Jonnie of course. Jonnie paid for it. We have no money for a Rolex. Our finances are abysmal. And Jonnie has already bought me some terrific clothes. You should have something for yourself.”
Is a Rolex watch the modern equivalent of Eden’s tempting apple? Hardly, because Richmond is no Eden. Richmond’s becoming that “other place” where arriving political innocents become twisted self-dealing politicians born anew – like our Governor.
Jonnie R. Williams Sr. who heads Star Scientific Inc, the manufacturer of dietary supplements, gave about $145,000 to the governing McDonnells in 2011 and 2012, according to news reports this past week. Jonnie’s largesse includes that shiny Rolex for the Guv and $15,000 in designer clothes and accessories for the First Missus.
In exchange, Jonnie at least got to launch a new dietary supplement product at the Governor’s Mansion with the Governor and First Lady hosting, and to meet with the Virginia Secretary of Health with the First Lady there when Jonnie gave his pitch.
Some suggested we pillory the Commonwealth’s First Lady, not the Governor, for having Jonnie pick up the $15,000 tab for daughter Cailin’s wedding at the Mansion — like the Governor was so self-absorbed in transvaginal ultra sound inserts for fertile women that he was oblivious to his own daughter’s wedding. In fact and truth, “Daddy Dearest” kicked his marrying daughter, Cailin, to the curb, saying she accepted the gift, so he didn’t have to report it.
This inartful “not me” dodge doesn’t work for the Governor when Jonnie “loaned” $70,000 directly to the corporation Governor Bob owns with sister Maureen, Mobo Real Estate Partners; incidentally the first installment on that loan was the same day as Cailin’s wedding in 2011.
Governor Bob says he doesn’t have to disclose “loans” to corporate interests, like his MoBo company. No surprise that they have not repaid a dime of these “loans.” Makes you wonder if Jonnie will forgive the “loan” after Governor Bob leaves office.
Some might think the Governor missed the fact that his Missus was receiving $50,000 pay for hyping Jonnie’s controversial dietary supplement. Hard to believe the Governor could miss it when he attended Jonnie’s dog and pony show at his Mansion.
From all this, if it were the Kardashians, we might expect a Reality TV series about a self-dealing political family – “The Moochin’ McDonnells.”
What we have for sure is a cul de sac where once the Governor seemed certain he’d made himself a path to the Oval Office.
No doubt, we’ll have a Fall thunderstorm of hypocritical attacks by Republican and Democratic “leaders” who haven’t been caught – to make us think their integrity is beyond reproach.
We might have a resignation if Governor Bob gives his hubris a rest.
Beyond his powers, we may witness a hand-cuffed perp walk by a Governor.
How did we get here? It is true we have good people enter government. Too few remain good. Most are massaged and malformed by the business of politics. Too few of character and courage escape the corrupting influences and most become selfish contemptible beasts – responding to the demands of the favor-givers, who send them streams of monies and false honors in and over the transom transacting and transforming executive and legislative policy to their liking.
This is an old problem. We will always have these self-dealing pols if we continue to allow third parties to give these spineless elected souls limitless gifts and loans.
As for our Governor McDonnell, imagine him glancing down at his Rolex, wondering if it was worth selling himself for a watch, and counting the hours, watching the hands of time, moved by gears and springs he cannot control, surely erasing him as the Governor, perhaps soon, by his own signature resigning, perhaps later by prosecution, or will it be the last gasping days of the Administration he so thoroughly corrupted when he limps out of office. Whenever it is, it can’t be too soon.