Bob McDonnell is being tried on public corruption charges – and his dysfunctional marriage is coming out in court

By Jeff Nelson
Updated August 28, 2014 07:30 PM
Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty

Corruption charges, an overly abrasive first wife and an unraveling marriage. While it sounds like a storyline right out of Scandal, these are all scenarios popping up in court, as former Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican from Virginia, faces public corruption charges.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, face a 14-count indictment for allegedly taking thousands of dollars in gifts and loans from entrepreneur Jonnie Williams in exchange for using their position to promote his dietary supplement company. And McDonnell’s best defense may be his marital woes.

The former Governor took the stand Aug. 21, where he aired his dirty laundry in court, chronicling the life of luxury he enjoyed with Williams, his on-the-rocks relationship with his wife and her relationship with the business man, which could be conceived of as more than just friends, according to the New York Times.

A Crumbling Marriage
The politician told the court that his marriage had been shaky as he moved up in the ranks. Maureen told him, “You put your job over time with me,” he said. “I did,” he admitted.

Meanwhile, McDonnell stated that his wife was hostile to both him and the governor’s mansion staff. “I am spiritually and mentally exhausted from being yelled at. I don’t think you realize how you are affecting me sometimes with your tongue,” McDonnell wrote in an email. His wife’s barbed behavior even caused some staff to threaten to quit their jobs. “I’m a pretty strong guy But that was a lot,” the ex-Governor said on trial.

Shopping Sprees, Golf Games and a Rolex
McDonnell is on trial for allegedly accepting $177,000 in loans, cash and gifts from Williams to promote the entrepreneur’s dietary products.

Included in that sum: personalized golf gear, a $20,000 New York Shopping spree for McDonnell’s wife, $15,000 for catering at McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding, a $23 million South Carolina vacation with Williams, $50,000 in loans for Maureen to pay off credit card debt and a Rolex.

Of the wedding gift, McDonnell told the court, “It was an incredibly generous and large amount of money I thought if he wanted to provide that gift to my daughter, that was okay.” As for his wife’s loan, “I didn’t see any conflict.” And the Rolex? He said, “It was gaudy,” and that he only wears it on holidays.

Are the Wife and Williams More Than Friends?
McDonnell’s lawyer hopes to blame Maureen for fostering a “crush” on Williams. In addition to the loan and N.Y.C. shopping spree, the entrepreneur brought her on several trips, as well as offered to buy her an Oscar De La Renta inauguration gown (which McDonnell refused).

Furthermore, McDonnell said he found out Williams and his wife spent hours on the phone together. “I was actually hurt The minutes were more than she talked to me,” he said.

McDonnell most recently took the stand Monday for cross-examination, where the prosecutors brought evidence via text messages and McDonnell and Williams were friendlier than he led on.

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