McDonnell: Wife had history of asking for money

RICHMOND, Va. (WUSA9) -- Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell admitted during cross examination Monday that his wife had a history of making inappropriate requests for money from friends and family.

"You knew about this for a long time?" lead prosecutor Michael Dry asked McDonnell.

"Yes," McDonnell said.

Bob and Maureen McDonnell are accused of accepting more than $177,000 in gifts and loans from then-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his dietary supplement, Anatabloc.

When asked if Maureen liked Jonnie Williams because he was wealthy, Bob McDonnell said "that wasn't the reason for friendships."

Dry asked McDonnell, given his knowledge of this history, if it ever occurred to him that Jonnie Williams picked up the tab on Maureen's New York shopping spree. McDonnell said it did not. He said he didn't know Williams spent $20,000 on designer clothing for Maureen until after the investigation began.

The former governor also said he didn't know about the $50,000 loan that Jonnie Williams gave to his wife until after she used the money to pay credit card bills and buy stock. McDonnell testified that Maureen told him she didn't ask for the check from Williams, and that he just gave it to her. Dry asked McDonnell why he didn't call Williams about the loan until 30 to 40 days later. McDonnell said he was waiting for loan documents that never came.

McDonnell insisted that he was not in financial trouble and didn't need the money. But when Williams wrote a $15,000 check for Calin McDonnell's wedding reception, the McDonnells only had $12,000 cash on hand in three bank accounts, including one that was his wife's.

Dry pointed out that in March 2011, not long before a $50,000 loan from Jonnie Williams to MoBo Realty, McDonnell tried and failed to get loans from several banks to refinance his beach properties.

Dry asked the former governor if he recognized pictures of him and Maureen walking hand in hand to court at three separate hearings between January and May 2014. The prosecution is trying to show that Bob and Maureen's marriage was not broken as the defense claims. Dry also said that McDonnell took 18 out of town trips with Maureen in 22 months.

"I tried to spend as much time as I could," McDonnell said.

When asking McDonnell about various golf outings he played on Williams's dime, Dry alleged that McDonnell had once asked his staff members to make a briefing book of places where he could play golf for free.

Dry showed an email from the former governor's travel aid to his scheduling assistant that read:

"Yes basically this means find out who we known (sic) in these cities, that owns golf courses and will let me and my family play for free, or at a reduced cost. Also find out where to stay for free/or reduced cost."

McDonnell said he never told his assistants to do this. He said whenever he took advantage of gifts of that nature from donors, it was to spend time with family.

Dry also asked why these golf outings didn't make it onto the governor's Statement of Economic Interest. The prosecution alleges that McDonnell was trying to conceal gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, but McDonnell says he simply forgot to put the golf outings.

Dry pointed out that McDonnell played golf with Jonnie Williams just nine days before he filled out an SOEI. The SOEI didn't require the recent golf trip to be reported, but the golf trips from the previous year.

When asked about the purpose of the SOEI, McDonnell said it was in part so the people of Virginia can be able to tell if there's undue influence on the governor. McDonnell admitted that, looking at his SOEIs, one can't tell that Jonnie Williams gave his wife a $50,000 loan or his daughter a $15,000 check for her wedding reception.

McDonnell continued to deny speaking to his wife about an August 30, 2011 lunch at the governor's mansion that she hosted for Virginia researches. The prosecution has called this an Anatabloc launch.

Dry showed an email from the first lady's chief of staff to McDonnell's travel aide that read "the date for the lunch was selected due to the launch of the product." McDonnell said his aide did not tell him this information and that he did not know this was a Star Scientific event. McDonnell said he didn't remember bottles of Anatabloc at each place setting during the lunch.

During questioning by Maureen McDonnell's defense attorney Monday morning, Bob McDonnell said his wife never asked him to do anything for Jonnie Williams.

McDonnell admitted that he could have done more to deal with Maureen's issues. He testified that he tried to help the mansion staff with Maureen's anger issues and anxiety in various ways, but said that looking back now, it wasn't enough. McDonnell said that Maureen did receive mental health counseling and medication in 2012.

McDonnell testified that he developed a relationship with Jonnie Williams that was separate from his wife. Maureen's defense showed text messages between McDonnell and Williams that did not include or pertain to Maureen.

Defense attorney Bill Burck asked Bob McDonnell about Maureen's interview with law enforcement on February 15, 2013. Bob testified that Maureen felt ambushed and lied to. McDonnell said Maureen was anxious and nervous, but testified that she never said she did anything wrong.

Friday, McDonnell said he didn't blame his wife Maureen, but a theme of his defense has been their broken marriage. McDonnell spoke about his wife's "fiery anger" and said it was Maureen who took loans from Virginia businessman Jonnie Williams without his knowledge.

Bob and Maureen McDonnell are accused of accepting more than $177,000 in gifts and loans from then-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his dietary supplement, Anatabloc.

McDonnell testified that he didn't do anything illegal, but said he blames himself for letting his life get out of balance. He said Jonnie Williams gave Maureen the emotional relationship she wasn't getting from her husband.

Bob McDonnell said he didn't think accepting loans and gifts from Williams was inappropriate because Williams didn't ask for anything in return from the state government.

The former governor said he wouldn't trade his 38 years in public service for golf outings or expensive dinners. He said "having some time with my family" was the most important gift he ever received.


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