- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

RICHMOND — Former Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday flatly denied attempting to conceal or mask his relationship with wealthy businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., parrying a barrage of direct questions from the prosecution in his public corruption case.

Michael Dry, in his second day of cross-examining the former governor, pressed Mr. McDonnell repeatedly on loans and negotiations he had with Mr. Williams, the details of which he didn’t share with others.

In acknowledging he kept his staff in the dark about his dealings with Mr. Williams, Mr. McDonnell said multiple times that he didn’t talk about finances with subordinates. He said that, no matter the amount of money donors gave, his administration tried to treat everybody fairly.

“That’s why we don’t talk about money,” he said.

During one pointed exchange, Mr. Dry asked whether Mr. McDonnell’s describing a $50,000 loan from Mr. Williams as a “corporate” agreement, as opposed to a personal one, was an after-the-fact legal justification he came up with, presumably to avoid including it on disclosure forms as a personal liability.

“Absolutely not, Mr. Dry. No,” Mr. McDonnell replied.

Mr. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, have been accused of accepting more than $170,000 in gifts and loans in exchange for helping Mr. Williams promote the nutritional supplement company Star Scientific Inc. and a tobacco-based product called Anatabloc.

Mr. McDonnell also rejected as “absolutely false” the notion that the loan floated to the real estate company run by him and his sister in March 2012 was actually a loan to him personally.

The former governor smiled at certain points and crossed his arms at others, appearing resolute and unwavering in some of the testimony he delivered.

But as he did Monday — the first day of cross-examination — Mr. McDonnell also said he couldn’t recall specifics at times. He asked Mr. Dry to repeat himself, said he was asking multiple questions at once or simply said he disagreed with the premises of some of the prosecutor’s questions.

Didn’t you realize, Mr. Dry asked, that Mr. Williams was lending that $50,000 because of you?

“No, I considered him a friend,” Mr. McDonnell said. “He offered to do it.”

After one exchange Mr. McDonnell’s defense team objected to, Judge James R. Spencer stepped in to say Mr. Dry had in fact asked a question but Mr. McDonnell didn’t offer an answer.

“Come on,” he said. “Everybody, let’s tighten this up.”

The prosecution has not been able to point to “smoking gun” evidence demonstrably proving Mr. McDonnell planned to effectively trade the prestige of his office for Mr. Williams‘ largesse. But Mr. Dry walked through several time periods on Tuesday that suggested Mr. McDonnell would have had Mr. Williams on his mind in the course of his official duties as governor.

For example, Mr. McDonnell acknowledged he pulled out a bottle of Anatabloc in a meeting on March 21, 2012, with his secretary of administration and the head of the state’s human resources department about a week after the $50,000 check from Mr. Williams had been deposited and the two had discussed financial support.

Mr. McDonnell also rode on Mr. Williams‘ jet back from Florida around that time as well, Mr. Dry pointed out.

Mr. Dry questioned the former governor him about e-mails from Feb. 2012 Mr. McDonnell sent just minutes apart — one to Mr. Williams, and the next to counsel Jasen Eige telling Mr. Eige to see him about Anatabloc issues at state universities.

Mr. McDonnell has said he routinely fires off many late-night emails and that he didn’t understand at the time that Mr. Williams was trying to get his help securing clinical studies at state universities.

“He never asked me for help” with Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia, Mr. McDonnell said.

Mr. Dry also pressed Mr. McDonnell on the finances of the real estate company run by him and his sister, which had been operating with annual deficits between $40,000 and $60,000.

Mr. McDonnell said he thought he had a stable plan long-term for the Virginia Beach properties he managed and they had always planned to run an initial deficit, but he acknowledged it’s not a good business plan to take large losses each year.

Mr. Dry played an interview Mr. McDonnell had done with Fox News host Sean Hannity in August 2012 where, talking about government spending, the former governor said you can’t spend more money then you have for an extended period or else you go broke.

Mr. McDonnell said the business plan relied in part on borrowing money from others.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide