Tag Archives: Jonnie Williams

Bob McDonnell Gives Ingratitude a Bad Name

No, that's not Maureen & her daughter. It's the official 1st Lady portrait.

No, that’s not Maureen & her daughter. It’s the official 1st Lady portrait.

The Bob & Maureen McDonnell corruption trial is not proving to be the unmitigated disaster for the McDonnell family that I first assumed. As the trial continues Maureen is looking more and more like her official portrait, currently on display at the Richmond Salvation Army Store.

She can’t do anything about the age difference — the youngster in Maureen’s “First Lady” portrait appears to be graduating from college next fall — but the size differential is rapidly closing. There’s nothing like the Federal Corruption Trial Diet to help remove those unwanted pounds that appear barnacle–like over the years.

A few more weeks in the courthouse and Maureen will be down to her fighting weight, which may come in handy if she’s sentenced to hard time.

The McDonnell saga, which in many ways represents the typical I–won–the–lottery–and–blew–it–all story has been invaluable for those who write. If you’re interested in brushing up on the whole story here are the relevant columns:

Politicians and their lack of will power when it comes to gifts are here.

The McDonnell family’s descent into a life of dependency in the governor’s mansion is here.

And why Bob McDonnell should have resigned as governor is here.

The prosecution has now rested its case and regardless of whether or not McDonnell is guilty, the picture painted of the family is only flattering if you compare them to the Kardashians.

Trial testimony left out the thousands of dollars it cost when the McDonnell kids raided the mansion’s pantry to take food to college. (That was only tax dollars and everyone knows those are free.) Instead the trial focused on what Jonnie R. Williams showered on the governor. There is the $20,000 shopping tab Maureen ran up on her New York City shopping trip that was chaperoned by Williams. His unintentionally funny description of the outing into Women’s Territory warmed the heart of every husband who’s sat bored on a mall bench outside a clothing store as the women shopped and the credit card smoked: “It went on for hours.”

Then there is the brand new set of golf clubs, golf bag with the UVA logo and golf shoes given to Bobby McDonnell who thought the give was “excessive” but not so excessive that he sent it back. In fact he and his father and brother played multiple rounds of golf and charged hundreds of dollars in green fees, caddy fees, food and golf accessory purchases to Williams during 2011 and 2012.

There’s even a rumor they tried to flag down Marine One and invite Obama to join the threesome.

The haul from the Jonnie Williams ATM was so extensive the WaPost designed an excellent graphic that shows whom got what that you can find here. Weddings were profit centers, the family was showered with plane tickets, a trip to Cape Cod, the Final Four (ironic that, because McDonnell’s governor term was the final four years of his political career), Florida, another golf bag, flights on private planes, a watercolor and a turkey dinner (wait, sorry, that was Ken Cuccinelli’s thanksgiving gratuity from Williams). And since the McDonnells were good conservatives they would NEVER stoop to taking an Obamaphone, but they did pocket two Williams’ iPhones.

The mental image one has after reading the list is of the Beverly Hillbillies living it up in their new California mansion, but that’s completely unfair to the Clampetts, because they were using their own money.

Now that the prosecution’s story of Rent–A–Politician has concluded, the defense strategy is two–fold. First Maureen is a maniac who had hot pants for Williams and hid everything from her husband. She was the mastermind behind the plot to trade official support for Williams’ patent medicine product, Anatabloc, in return for Williams making the McDonnells his foster children.

My favorite story involving Maureen is from the WaPost and it concerns her efforts to sell Mitt Romney on the diet supplement during a trip to South Carolina. Now I’ve seen Mitt’s legs and they are about the size of a pipe cleaner, so Maureen’s instincts were good. Mitt could use some bulking up.

Staffers sensing a disaster put a stop to that plan, but they couldn’t intercept Mrs. McDonnell before she cornered Ann Romney on the campaign bus, where Maureen’s pre–trial bulk made it impossible for Mrs. Romney to escape.

Exhibiting her usual tact and concern for the feelings of others, Maureen blurted to Ann that Williams’ Anatablock was so great it could “potentially cure MS.” Ann Romney —who no doubt had a few choice words for the advance staff after the event — has multiple sclerosis, so the sales pitch was vulgar, insensitive and fit Maureen as snugly as one of Williams’ free designer dresses.

Or as McDonnell political advisor Phil Cox said on the stand, “I was horrified. I thought it was a train wreck.”

Bob’s defense is different. He’s not crazy, but he may be the biggest ingrate in Commonwealth history. Big Watch Bob’s story is reciprocation is not a word in his vocabulary. He accepted $120,000.00 in no–doc loans to shore up his failing real estate investments, wore the Rolex, presided over the acceptance of the other thousands of dollars in booty and did absolutely NOTHING in return for Williams.

He just sent all William’s calls to voice mail where they died a lingering death. It would have made more sense for Williams to forget the McDonnells and hire a lobbyist, but come to think of it 120K probably wouldn’t be enough to hire a Hamas spokesman.

As far as strategies go this is a variation of the Viet Nam defense: We destroyed the reputation in order to save it.

And just to make sure there was no doubt as to McDonnell’s ingratitude the WaPost writes, “In the afternoon, defense attorneys presented a parade of former McDonnell cabinet secretaries to testify to all the things McDonnell could have done to assist Williams and his company. In turn, each witness agreed that McDonnell never took those actions.”

In other words don’t loan Bob your lawnmower with the expectation that you can borrow his rake later.

I can see the fun couple’s social life drying up the longer the trial continues. Who wants to host a couple that will never return the favor and might ask you to take them to the mall before they leave?

Ingratitude as a get–out–of–jail strategy can’t be helping fund raising for McDonnell’s legal defense. (Lawyers are something else for which McDonnell doesn’t deign to pay.) If a signature loan for 120K doesn’t warm the cockles of Bob’s heart when he’s facing foreclosure, what is your measly 5K for lawyers going to achieve?

Off–Year Election Prospects Grim for Conservatives

Democrat Terry McAuliffe prepares to photograph his favorite person.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe prepares to photograph his favorite person.

In 2009 gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia provided a morale boost for conservatives still smarting from the Obama victory. Chris Christie won in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell won in Virginia.

The chance for morale boosting repeat this year is very small.

In New Jersey we’ve discovered Christie is now Obama’s newest BFF and is showing all the symptoms of an advanced case of RINO’s disease with egomaniacal complications.

Here in Virginia, there is little optimism regarding Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor. It’s looking more and more like he should have kept his original promise to run for re–election as attorney general. Then there truly would have been a balm in Gilead.

Retiring Lt. Governor Bill Bolling could have run unopposed on the GOP side — while he continued to keep his inner RINO in the closet — Cuccinelli would be AG and E. W. Jackson could have become Lt. Governor. Two conservatives out of three isn’t bad and former GOP consultant — and Bolling inner circle member — Boyd Marcus would not have had to defect to the Democrats in a fit of pique.

It pains me to say this, but ‘moderate’ Bolling actually would have been a stronger candidate than Cuccinelli, because he has no ties whatsoever to FBI investigation target Jonnie Williams — the VA GOP answer to Santa Claus — and his Star Scientific patent medicine company. A Bolling candidacy would have been immune to the fallout from Big Watch Bob McDonnell’s gifts–that–keep–on–giving scandal. Simply because Bolling didn’t run up a tab with Williams. Bolling doesn’t wear a $7,500 gift watch, didn’t take free vacations, his children didn’t receive $25,000 in wedding gifts, his wife didn’t receive a $15,000 shopping spree and the family business didn’t get a $75,000 loan.

(Rumor has it that once Bolling learned Williams’ product wasn’t a weight loss aid, he had no more interest in Star Scientific.)

Instead we have an incumbent governor passing the hat to raise money to pay lawyers working to prevent an indictment. Williams is singing like a canary. And both are damaging Cuccinelli who took what amounted to tip money from Jonnie — particularly when compared to the jackpot McDonnell hit when Williams became a “family friend.”

No wonder Ken is currently polling seven points behind the Democrat nominee Terry ‘Flim Flam Man’ McAuliffe. I suppose we’re lucky the deficit isn’t larger. McDonnell could have helped the situation if he had resigned during the summer, but even Star Scientific doesn’t manufacture an anti–inflammatory powerful enough to lubricate McDonnell’s passage out of the mansion.

So McAuliffe’s refusal to release his tax returns — for a brief moment an important issue — becomes a non–issue in the environment generated by the Williams/McDonnell gifts scandal. Looking at it from a voter’s perspective it’s a wash, McAuliffe is just better about hiding his financial peccadilloes.

In this political climate it’s crucial for the Cuccinelli campaign to avoid any mistakes that call the nominee’s character into question. So what do they do? The campaign airs a negative commercial that calls the campaign’s character into question.

The spot contains testimonials from people who were ruined by the bankruptcy of a company from which McAuliffe made millions. Any effectiveness the commercial had ended when the people giving the testimonials told the Washington Post that no one told them the footage would be in a campaign commercial. On the contrary, they say they were told the interviews were for a documentary. And they say the Cuccinelli campaign lied to them.

I’ve been making campaign commercials for 33 years and I can tell you that any competent media firm has a simple way to settle controversies like this. All the campaign has to do is show the reporter the talent releases signed during the taping.

That way if the interviewees change their mind later or the McAuliffe people pressure them, you have proof the interview subjects knew what they were getting into before the spot aired.

Only the Cuccinelli campaign didn’t show Washington Post reporters any signed releases. During their WaPost interview they did not address “whether the employees in the ad were told how the footage would be used.”

I don’t want to pile on here, but I have some advice for the campaign. If the media consultant and the production company didn’t get signed permission releases from non–professional talent the company is sloppy, incompetent and deserves to be fired.

If the media consultant and the production company have releases but the releases say the footage is to be used in a documentary and not a campaign commercial, they are sleazy, incompetent and deserve to be fired.

Voters are accustomed to a certain amount of hyperbole in positive campaign spots, that’s why no one chokes when Lindsey Graham and the word “fighting” appear in the same spot. But negative commercials must be accurate and the allegations based on verifiable fact. Ken’s campaign has done it’s best to undermine his positive and negative message.

We have a Cuccinelli campaign that says McAuliffe can’t be trusted, plays fast and loose with the truth and won’t release his taxes. Then the same campaign releases a commercial that plays fast and loose with the truth to people already reeling from losing their livelihood. And just to make sure the news stays bad Cuccinelli — after foot dragging for months — decides to donate $18,000 to charity to offset the same amount he received in gifts from Jonnie Williams.

In one fell swoop the campaign helps McAuliffe by generating another week or two of negative coverage regarding the gifts. Waiting this late in the campaign to donate money from gifts Cuccinelli never should have taken is stupidity compounded.

I’m told that the reason Cuccinelli decided to break his promise and not run for re–election as AG is his big money backers told him they would not donate unless he ran for governor. I’m wondering how the plutocrats feel about their investment now?

 

For more on Cuccinelli and the gifts scandal click here

For more on how McDonnell caused the gifts scandal click here and here

For more on how Bolling discovered his inner RINO click here

For more on how Marcus discovered his inner turncoat click here