Tag Archives: Bob McDonnell

McDonnell Cites Trone on “Buying Access” in Corruption Conviction Appeal

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Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s attorneys cited recent statements by CD8 Candidate David Trone in their brief appealing McDonnell’s corruption conviction:

The consequences of the Government’s construction confirm why it cannot be the law.  Extending bribery beyond efforts to direct a particular resolution of a specific governmental decision would upend the political process, vesting federal prosecutors with extraordinary supervisory power over every level of government.  If “official action”includes anything that could “have the purpose or effect of exerting some influence” on any imaginable sovereign decision (Pet.App.54a), then every official and campaign donor risks indictment whenever heightened access is provided in close temporal proximity to contributions.  That happens literally every day at political fundraisers nationwide.  As one businessman seeking public office recently explained: “I sign my checks to buy access.”  Bill Turque, David Trone Has Donated More than $150,000 to Republicans, Database Shows, WASH. POST, Jan. 28, 2016.

Now, there is an important legal difference between buying access via campaign donations – referenced here by Trone – and through direct gifts to the official. Nevertheless, McDonnell’s attorneys cite Trone’s statement as an explanation for why it’s acceptable that McDonnell used his powers as Governor to aid a businessman who gave him a Rolex and helped to pay for his daughter’s wedding.

Cynicism about the process is helping to power both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns in very different ways. Sanders decries the corruption of American politics through corporate campaign donations.

Like Trump, Trone says forthrightly that, of course, he was “buying access.” A central basis of the Trump and the Trone campaigns is that they are so rich that they cannot be bought. Their wealth has become a qualification for office.

His campaign t-shirts even brag “NO PACs, NO Corporations, NO Lobbyists.” While a great slogan, the fact remains that David Trone runs a company that makes exactly these sorts of donations and that company employs lobbyists. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that, for example, Total Wine gave $12,500 to support Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaign.

I’m not bothered that Trone has a lot of money or is stimulating the economy by spending so much of it on his campaign. But why Trone thinks that he is a superior candidate because he is the corrupter rather than the corrupted remains a mystery to me.


Orange is the New Black: Gubernatorial Edition

Maryland has much more experience with corruption than Virginia, so I thought it might be helpful to offer a few tips to our sister state. After all, we had much of our political class arrested in the 1960s. The Old Line State can speak from experience.

Watch the Future McDonnell Income Taxes
Conviction doesn’t always end corruption or shamelessness. Spiro Agnew became the only person ever to resign the vice presidency after his 1967 tax evasion conviction for unreported income. That didn’t stop him from trying to deduct the bribe money he had to repay Maryland from his California taxes in 1989.

Make Your Marital Problems Convincing
The “I have no idea where the money for this Rolex or my daughter’s wedding reception came from because my wife and I are having marital problems” defense didn’t fly with the jury. Those supplements have stronger effects than realized if they expected them to believe that sad hodgepodge.

In contrast, Gov. Marvin Mandel had believable problems since he divorced the first Mrs. Mandel to marry the second–and won reelection after he left his first wife. Indeed, the source of Mandel’s corruption was his need to pay hotel bills and alimony.

Mandel’s first wife, Barbara or Bootsie, refused to leave the governor’s mansion stating “I will remain Mrs. Mandel” until the former first couple negotiated an alimony settlement. I would have hired her to negotiate for me anytime.

No Need to Grasp for the Smelling Salts, Virginia
The Commonwealth is no doubt worried about its honor and reputation in the wake of its first gubernatorial conviction. But have no fear, you can still look down on Maryland which is waaay ahead in terms of corruption and isn’t even in the race for national leaders. Virginia remains the mother of presidents, while Agnew is the only Marylander to serve as president or vice president–a jinx Martin O’Malley would like to break.

Maryland pols convicted in the same era as Vice President Agnew and Governor Mandel include:

Anne Arundel County Executive Joseph Alton
Baltimore County Executive Dale Anderson
Baltimore County State’s Attoney Samuel Green, Jr.
Congressman William Mills
Speaker A. Gordon Boone
State Senator Clarence Mitchell III
Delegate James “Turk” Scott
U.S. Senator Daniel Brewster

And yet some still seem to think you just aren’t anyone in Maryland unless you’ve been indicted. The lack of Montgomery and Prince Georgians on the list is more testimony to our lack of influence then rather than our probity.

Good Governor, Shame about the Corruption
Ironically, despite the corruption problem that forced him to leave office, Marvin Mandel was considered an excellent, reformist governor. Similarly, McDonnell was well-regarded in Virginia until his Rolex and supplement problem came to light.