June 24, 2014
McDonnell prosecutors allege undisclosed gifts from people other than Williams
The Washington Post reports:
Federal prosecutors have alleged that former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his family accepted an expensive island vacation from a Henrico hotelier with University of Virginia ties and intentionally omitted the gift on his annual state disclosure forms, according to new court filings. The May 2012 trip — a $23,000 getaway to Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina, paid for by U-Va. Board of Visitors Vice Rector William H. Goodwin Jr. — does not seem to have any direct connection to Jonnie R. Williams Sr., another Richmond-area businessman, whose relationship with McDonnell and his wife is at the heart of the federal corruption case against the couple.
But prosecutors argued in a court filing made public recently that the vacation was just one example of undisclosed gifts given to the McDonnells by people other than Williams. They said those gifts are “intrinsic” to the case and might be used to convince jurors that McDonnell’s alleged crimes were no innocent mistake.
McDonnell and his lawyers have contended that the former governor followed state disclosure laws, which they say are vague and open to interpretation. They argue that evidence of undisclosed gifts that don’t involve Williams shouldn’t be allowed at trial, saying those gifts are irrelevant to the government’s allegation that McDonnell illegally agreed to trade state favors for Williams’s largesse.
Legal experts said the judge’s decision could be a turning point in the case, because of the potent effect of testimony suggesting that the McDonnells were collecting gifts and luxury vacations while in office.