Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
McDonnell accuses feds of “false allegations,” vows to fight indictment
Tonight former Gov. Bob McDonnell made a brief appearance before reporters to address today’s indictments of himself and his wife Maureen on 14 federal charges. (you can read more on those in the Washington Post and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.)
In a short statement to reporters Tuesday night in the lobby of Richmond law firm Williams Mullen, McDonnell fired back at the indictments, saying he has been “falsely accused” and repeating the claim he has made along, that he did nothing illegal and provided no state help to Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.
The former governor was flanked by his wife, one of his daughters and the daughter’s husband.
“I come before you this evening as someone who has been falsely accused and whose public service has been wrongly attacked,” McDonnell said.
He said the federal government’s case “rests entirely on a misguided legal theory.”
That theory, he said, is that “facilitating an introduction or meeting, appearing at a reception, or expressing support for a Virginia business is a serious federal crime for an office holder if it involves a political donor or someone who gave a gift or a loan.
He said he gave Williams “the same routine courtesies and access to state government” that he and previous governors gave others.
“No other elected official has ever been successfully prosecuted for such conduct, yet federal officials in Washington, in their zeal to find a basis for charging Maureen and me, have decided to stretch the law to the breaking point in this case,” McDonnell said.
He said he “deeply regret(s)” accepting gifts and loans from Williams, but that he has paid them back and never gave Williams or Star Scientific any contracts, loans, grants or other public government benefits.
“Not one penny of taxpayer money went to him or to Star Scientific during our administration,” McDonnell said. “Not one penny.”
McDonnell said the investigation has been “indescribably agonizing.”
He also said he plans to fight back.
“I have great faith in the American system of justice and I will use every available resource and advocate I have for as long as it takes to fight these false allegations and to prevail against this unjust overreach of the federal government,” McDonnell said.
He took no questions from the press.