McDonnells’ Defense Rests

On Wednesday, the 23rd day of the corruption trial of former governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen concluded and the defense has rested their case, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The last day of the defense’s argument circled around a synopsis of telephone,texts email records as well as schedules provided by former FBI agent, Robert Ross, who is an investigator for the law firm representing McDonnell and who testified on his behalf.

The jury also heard from Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky, the former governor’s eldest daughter as she chronicled the decline of her parent’s marriage. Zubowsky also went so far as calling Jonnie R. Williams a “criminal” and she returned an engagement gift she had received from the StarScientific CEO.

The final piece of information of the day was given by April Niamtu, a friend of Maureen McDonnell and wife of a cosmetic surgeon. The two women became friends when they met at an event when McDonnell was running for governor. Niamtu recalled how “spent” the Maureen was and the harsh effects that the responsibility of being the first lady had on her and her marriage.

 

 

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McDonnell’s Daughter Recounts Troubled Marriage

The testimony from the McDonnell’s oldest daughter, Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky, solidified the defense’s claim of the former governor’s troubled marriage, reports The Washington Post. 

Zubowsky began her testimony stating that she “loves her mother and father very much”, and then started to divulge the secrets of their rocky marriage. She asserted that the responsibilities of her father’s political career often caused him to neglect parenting duties leaving his wife Maureen to feel “frustration, loneliness and anger at times.” Zubokswy also added that the former first lady turned to drinking, soap operas and long baths in efforts to relieve stress.

Zubowsky remembered that her mother worked as a waitress and a typist to help support McDonnell and put him through law school. When his career took off as he became a prosecutor and state delegate, his wife was isolated at home taking care of their five children. The marital problems only worsened as McDonnell’s career continued to rise.

Jeanine was one of four witnesses who testified for Maureen McDonnell’s defense and after her testimony the case was handed back to the prosecutors.

The eldest McDonnell daughter’s testimony supports the defense’s core claim that the lack of communication in the McDonnell’s failing marriage means that it would have been impossible for them to conspire to accept almost $170,000 from Jonnie R. Williams in exchange for the prestige of the governor’s office.

Kaine Fights to Protect VIMS Funding

Balancing a falling budget and rising sea levels is a daunting task, but that’s exactly what U.S. Sen. Timothy Kaine, D-VA is trying to do, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

Half of the funding for The Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS), which is affiliated with the College of William and Mary, comes from federal grants to research the reasons behind the rising sea levels of coastal Virginia. With budget cuts needs to be made and the federal government tightening its belt some of this funding may be lost.

Sen. Kaine is a member of the Senate Budget and Armed Forces committee and remains a staunch supporter of VIMS and is committed to protect their funding so they may continue their research. Kaine said in a visit to the institute Monday that he will work to ensure that VIMS from the cuts that come from the federal budget sequestration.

“Sequestration hits the research accounts hard,” said Kaine in his visit, “my goal is to reduce as much of the sequestration effects as we can.”

Higher education institutions, including VIMS are exempt from Governor McAuliffe’s across-the-board cuts of 5 percent this year and 7 percent the next; however, they are bracing themselves for the effects of the looming federal cuts.

Federal Prosecutor Wraps Bob McDonnell’s Cross Examination

With the McDonnell corruption trial wrapping up its 23rd day, the federal prosecutor finished his brutal cross examination of the former governor by pulling a quote from his inaugural address. “The Scriptures say, ‘To whom much is given, much will be required,'” reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

This quote is now referring to the claim that Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen accepted over $175,000 in loans and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., former CEO of the dietary supplement company StarScientific, in exchange for the prestige of the governor’s office.

The cross-examination concluded with McDonnell acknowledging his regret for accepting the gifts stating , “I, being the governor allowed my life to get out of balance so that my judgement was not as good as it should have been…That was my error.  I take responsibility for that.”

The end of the 23rd day expects to see the governor’s defense team rest after it calls it’s last witness. Next, the attorneys for the former first lady who is being tried jointly with her husband, will spend several hours laying out her defense.

 

 

Is the McDonnell Corruption Case Responsible for Dip in Lobbyist Spending?

The Washington Post reports that lobbyists in Virginia have spent 10% less on “wining and dining” law makers during this year’s legislative session. Many attribute this drop in spending to the scandal around former governor Bob McDonnell and his relationship with Jonnie R. Williams Sr. of StarScientific.

The report juxtaposes the 2013 sessions, when the scandal was revealed and the 2014 session as McDonnell’s trial was about to commence. There were however more overall events, but they were not as extravagant as years past.

This idea which is  dubbed a loophole by many allows the number of events to increase because lobbyists must report which lawmakers attended the events, even if the tickets or meal were only valued at $50.

Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) mentioned that this loophole was on the docket to be discussed during the most recent legislative session; however, no changes to the law were made.

 

Comments Land Foust in Hot Water

Republican congressional candidate, state Del. Barbara J. Comstock has previously held positions as a congressional aide, lobbyist and Justice Department spokeswoman. However, Republicans jumped on Democrat John W. Foust after he questioned whether his female challenger in the race to succeed Rep. Frank Wolf had “even had a real job”, reports The Washington Post. 

The GOP quickly deemed Foust an insensitive sexist, they were quick to capitalize on his comments as women make up a large voter demographic in Virginia which the Democrats have traditionally been in control of. The comment was made as Foust was questioning Comstock’s commitment to job creation in Virginia.

“This desperate attack shows how out of touch he is with who it is that lives and works in the 10th District and the challenges that working women, working moms and moms at home face everyday by men who demean their many and demanding rolls,” said Susan Falconer, Comstock’s campaign manager in a news release.

Foust claims that he was not criticizing Comstock as a women and denounced his label as a sexist  saying that the Republican characterization was a “stretch”. In a telephone interview Foust explained  that there was “a whole long prelude leading up to that statement, which was focused on her claiming to be a job creator. The statement was in that context.”

Will New NRA Ads Featuring Ed Gillespie Help or Hurt His Campaign?

Last week the National Rifle Association (NRA) debuted a mutli-million dollar ad campaign to push back against Michael Bloomberg’s gun control efforts by focusing in on Senate races throughout the country, including Virginia, reports The Washington Post.

The group distributed a large number of mailings in it’s home state of Virginia (their offices are located in Fairfax county) which featured a Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie.

The ads featuring a smiling Gillespie with the quote next to him with his pledge to “strongly oppose and fight against Obama’s gun ban treaty, any bans on guns and ammunition, a federal gun registration database and government approval for gun sales among friends and family.” These ads were made and distributed by the NRA without the consultation of of Gillespie’s campaign.

These mailings may have upsetting consequences for Gillespie, as the candidate who was nominated by the Tea Party, has focused a large part of his campaign on securing the vote for more moderate voters.

Especially after tragedies  such as the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, these news ads put Gillespie at risk of pushing away voters in Northern Virginia who may not support the second amendment rhetoric.

 

Warner and Gillespie to Meet Eight Time Before November Election

On Thursday Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Warner agreed to eight different appearances with Republican candidate Ed Gillespie, reports The Washington Post.

There will be two more televised debates, in addition to the one held last month, that are slated for October 7 in Fairfax County and October 13 in Richmond.

Four more appearances were agreed upon with two being made in in Northern Virginia in September , one in Danville in October and the other to be scheduled at a later date.

Warner addressed the joint appearances and said, “I look forward to continuing the conversation with “Virginians about my commitment to finding common sense solutions that provide every Virginian with a fair shot at success during these forums in all parts of the Commonwealth.”

As of now Warner is enjoying a double-digit lead over Gillespie and has raised more money than his challenger, who released his first TV ad this week.

McDonnells’ Marriage Crumbled as Former Governor’s Power Rose

In the third week of Former Governor Bob McDonnell’s corruption case, it was time for him to take the stand. McDonnell’s testimony revealed that he and wife Maureen’s marriage faced many problems as the former governor rose to power, reports The Washington Post.

In his second day of testimony McDonnell chronicled the change in their marriage as they began as a happy couple in Germany, to it’s eventual breakdown.  McDonnell pulled emails he sent to his wife begging to save their marriage, which he claims went unanswered by the former First Lady.

This information presented by McDonnell helps to prove his claim that the dealing with StarScientific CEO Johnnie R. Williams Sr. were conducted by his wife Maureen. He contributes the lack of communication and rocky marriage to the reason he was left in the dark about the dealings.

McDonnell attributes the stress of public life and spotlight contributed to the disintegration of his marriage. The former governor also alluded to his wife leaning on Williams for emotional support, that he himself was not able to provide.

Same-Sex Couples Continue Their Wait to Marry in Virginia

The Supreme Court announced Wednesday that they will uphold the request for a stay regarding the ruling in Virginia’s same-sex marriage case, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

 

Justices granted the request of Michele B. McQuigg, a Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk, and other opponents of gay marriage. According to McQuigg’s lawyers “uncertainty for the public” and “irreparable injury to the commonwealth” may result from allowing same-sex couple to marry before the Supreme Court could review the ruling.

 

The Supreme Court did not supply explanation or release vote totals for their decision. Carl Tobias a professor of constitutional law at the University of Richmond School of Law remarked that “The cryptic nature of the court’s order makes it difficult to ascertain its reasoning.”

 

While legal experts were not surprised by the Supreme Court’s ruling, many same-sex couple across the state were discouraged and let down as they had been preparing for weddings. Governor Terry McAuliffe called the ruling “a temporary delay to the inevitable conclusion that Virginians who love each other should have the opportunity to marry regardless of their sexual orientation.