by Paul Goldman
Governor and Mrs. McDonnell believe they are above the law. As I will prove below, the Governor had TO KNOW the Rolex was NOT PAID FOR by his wife.
Ruin for a Rolex? If that is what Governor McDonnell wants, then he is surely on the path to receive it. Think about it: You live in one of the most historic mansions in the country, you have the title of one of the most historic Governorships in American history, you are the chief executive of a state that has figured huge in the nation’s founding, you have all the legitimate perks of power, your expenses are all paid, your have a possible 7-figure income when you get out with some law firm, you have the title for life, and yet: you have no appreciation, no reverence – none at all – for either the legacy or the people.
Indeed, you believe your stature is defined by wearing a Rolex@! Is that pathetic or what? The First Lady believes her stature is based on wearing an expensive dress, or having a wedding for her daughter they can’t afford? Is that not double pathetic or what?
I call them Virginia’s Beverly Hillbillies. But let’s be honest, they will be called by a different name, W—- T—-, in the country song that is going to be written about them if insist they did nothing wrong.
There are only 3 possible explanations for what has been the modus operandi at the McDonnell Governor’s Mansion these past 3 and 1/2 years. They are as follows:
1. The Governor and the First Lady were on the same page: milk it for all it’s worth, as long as they thought they could hide behind Virginia’s lax disclosure laws. If this explanation is true, then the gifts and the actions of the First Family are proof of promises of riches to follow once the McDonnells are out of office, by their getting “in” on the ground floor of Star Scientific’s new health product.
2. The Governor set some limits to what his wife could do, and she went way over the edge, in part by playing on Mr. McDonnell’s weaknesses. To be sure, Mr. Williams, the Star Scientific founder, is a master manipulator, who quickly realized the Beverly Hillbillies nature of the McDonnells. He saw their weak point and played them. I get that. But Williams could only succeed if the McDonnells allow themselves to be played.
3. The Governor simply decided to “turn a blind eye” and let his wife do her thing. He decided this was the only way to keep the peace in the marriage. He figured the laws where such that he could always create a technical defense if need be.
Sadly, there is only one logical conclusion. Here’s why. If the Governor objected to his wife’s actions, then he would have stopped her at the first sign of trouble. Moreover, he would have known the Rolex was not from her. When was the last time she bought him a $6,500 watch? NEVER.
THUS: Even if you assume the First Lady started all this ON HER OWN, at some point Governor McDonnell became a willing participant. He decided, at some point, to use Virginia’s lax laws on these matters to hide their exposure as Virginia’s Beverly Hillbillies.
I feel sorry for their staff, who are very talented and helped McDonnell become a national figure. But behind the hair and the good looks, HE IS RUNNING ON EMPTY. He and his wife have tried to milk the Governor’s office for all the personal gain they could. That’s clear to anyone who is willing to look at the facts as they are.
Now, McDonnell has two choices.
1) He can give the gifts back, she can give all that she got back, and they can ask Virginians to forgive them for such a huge mistake in judgment. I would be willing to do that for this reason: the U.S. Supreme Court has long said that it isn’t right to criminally prosecute under vague laws. There is enough vagueness in our financial disclosure laws to allow the McDonnells to make a legal defense as to whether the gifts were reportable.
BUT THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE GIFTS WERE REPORTABLE IS NOT THE ISSUE. The issue is that NO GOVERNOR OR FIRST LADY should be allowed to ever accept such gifts, PERIOD. The fact our laws make it okay – if reported – shows these laws need to be fundamentally changed, not enforced by criminal trials.
2. But if the Governor and the First Lady refuse to do the right thing – return the loot and ask forgiveness – then they are daring the General Assembly to initiate proceedings under Section 17 of Article V of the Constitution of Virginia. Such money corruption in the Office of Governor is grounds for impeachment. If McDonnell insists that he did nothing wrong, then why should the people of Virginia be forced to pay his pension for life, why should he be entitled to be called “Governor” for life? Do the leaders of the state really want to make it so clear they accept a double standard?
If McDonnell can’t admit it and ask forgiveness, then he is mocking us. I don’t like to be mocked. I don’t think the people of Virginia like to be mocked. I don’t think the people deserve to be mocked by their Governor. The Governor is saying to us by his actions: I am above the law, I am above common sense. Virginians are not seeking to punish the Governor. They only want him to say that he dropped the ball, that he messed up. Blame it on the wife, blame on the weatherman, just don’t play us for fools.
Virginia’s Beverly Hillbillies need to go, one way or the other. They can throw themselves on the mercy of public, leave quietly, collect their pension, keep their titles, and get whatever Mr. Williams or others have promised, enjoy private life. Or they can go Ugly. Even if they don’t get indicted or convicted, they will be held in maximum low regard by the public forever.
Is that worth a Rolex? If he is willing to risk all that for a Rolex, then Bob McDonnell is the smallest Governor in modern era. There is no one even visible in the rear view mirror.