Skip to comments.The Witch Hunt Against Bob McDonnell
Posted on 02/02/2015 9:35:59 AM PST by Kaslin
In recent years, conservative politicians have found themselves prosecuted not for the types of crimes elected officials committed in the past like theft, bribery and nepotism, but instead for nebulous sounding activity, the kind where it is difficult to understand why exactly something was wrong. It has proven easy for Democrat prosecutors to convict each ham sandwich victim, because the laws have become so vast, vague and complex that the public including those serving as jurors cannot understand them.
On January 7, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a conservative Republican once considered a leading contender for President, was sentenced by a judge to two years in federal prison. A jury found him guilty of 19 counts of honest services wire fraud, obtaining property under color of official right, and extortion under color of official right in September for accepting more than $177,000 in loans and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams, the head of a dietary supplements company, who was later invited to the governors mansion and his cabinet. McDonnells wife Maureen was convicted of similar charges and will be sentenced later this month. McDonnell repaid more than $120,000 to Williams in 2013, before he was indicted, but prosecutors didnt care.
Federal District Court Judge James R. Spencer could have sentenced McDonnell to community service, but instead threw the book at him. Tellingly, it came out in December that McDonnell had opposed the appointment of Spencers wife 18 years ago to the Virginia State Supreme Court during a partisan battle in the state legislature. McDonnell nominated someone else instead, and Margaret Spencer never made it onto the State Supreme Court, instead becoming a Circuit Court judge in Richmond. Judge James Spencer was appointed to the bench by Reagan, but it is reported that he and his wife are both Democrats. At a minimum, Judge James Spencer should have recused himself from the case. McDonnell plans to appeal, and it is inconceivable the appellate court would not throw out the decision in part based on that glaring and offensive conflict of interest.
Prosecutors pressured Williams, whose story has changed at least once, into testifying against McDonnell in exchange for immunity. Williams claimed that he gave the gifts because he wanted the state to back clinical trials for his product. The state never did. In fact, there hasnt been any evidence provided revealing that Williams got something in return, so there was no quid pro quo.
In contrast, Williams was given a free pass for helping the prosecution take down McDonnell. Williams allegedly bilked not just thousands, but millions of dollars from investors, which prosecutors incredibly gave him immunity for as well. Michael S. Dry, an assistant United States attorney who prosecuted the case, had the nerve to admit the disparity in treatment of the two by the prosecution. He told the court that the Jonnie Williamses of the world are a dime a dozen. Corrupt governors are not. But when we find one, he said, the official must be brought to justice. Drys face was described as twisted in anger after McDonnell was sentenced, having asked for an even lengthier sentence. Does this sound like a fair and impartial prosecutor, or someone who has become emotionally invested in winning?
The left-leaning Washington Post admits that many legal experts, including Democrats, believe that a higher court may overturn the conviction because the law is too vague about what is permitted activity. Even Lanny Davis, former legal counsel to President Clinton, said the case should have never been prosecuted in the first place.
Six former state attorneys general, including four Democrats, filed a brief defending McDonnell. They said the conviction relied on an expansive interpretation of federal law that would criminalize routine political dealings. Virginia law says the actions taken must be official in order to violate the law. McDonnell would have to have known that by giving Williams access to his administration that he was committing a crime. Someone who accepted gifts from a good friend in the past would effectively be barred from ever inviting that friend to any official functions discriminating against their own friend in contrast with the general population.
One of the former state attorneys general, Anthony F. Troy, who was assigned to represent McDonnell, found that McDonnell gave no state contracts, awards or gubernatorial appointments to Williams. Nancy Gertner, a former judge appointed by President Clinton who now teaches at Harvard, also filed a brief, stating, The criminal law has to be clear. It has to give notice. Otherwise, every politician is vulnerable to an ambitious prosecutor.
The Virginia Bar Association suspended McDonnells law license after the conviction, a typical practice of left-leaning bar associations. Despite the fact that the actions he was convicted of had nothing to do with practicing law, and are headed for appeal, bar associations have started wielding their power over attorneys in an overreaching manner to further pile on conservatives under attack.
The unfairness of vague laws used to target conservative politicians is starkly apparent when compared to what happened to a powerful liberal Republican county supervisor in Arizona who spent at least $86,000 in campaign contributions from powerful interests on various expensive items for himself and his family. He turned around and got the prosecutors disbarred, and his fellow county supervisors awarded him a cool $3.5 million from the taxpayers for the stress of attempted prosecution.
At most, McDonnell is probably guilty of a marriage gone sour. Maureen McDonnells attorney admitted that Williams had become inappropriately chummy with her, since Williams hoped to get favors in return for his gifts. If everything alleged was true, what did the former governor expect to gain by rewarding Williams with access for luring his wife? It doesnt make any sense. You may as well require Maureen McDonnell to wear a scarlet letter A on her lapel too.
Knowing how trumped up the charges were, McDonnell refused to even accept a plea bargain that would have allowed him to plead guilty to one non-corruption related count and his wife to face no charges.
McDonnells attorneys described what happened best, comparing the prosecution to tyrannical Roman emperor Caligula, who tried to imprison people for violating laws written in tiny lettering on a pillar too high to see. Lanny Davis similarly opined, Given all this, we see a prosecution that lost its sense of proportion, misplaced its priorities and exhibited judgment as poor as the McDonnells', if not worse.
The McDonnells have already suffered public humiliation, the likely loss of their marriage, and probably their health and finances. Bob McDonnell has lost his bar license and probably the rest of his political career. When are the adults going to step in? The appeals court has the next shot at stopping this.
It is long overdue to start swinging the pendulum back against activist leftists within the legal system who use their power to mercilessly and wrongfully target prominent conservatives. If not, it is only going to get worse. Many conservatives stood by and did nothing as Tom DeLay, Dinesh DSouza and Rick Perry were targeted through the legal system, believing they must have been guilty because the laws were too complicated to understand, and the complicit left-wing media was careful to spin everything against the conservatives. A recent article in the Washington Post brazenly started out, Virginians rightly disgusted by the sleazy behavior of ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell…
Who will the leftists in the legal system come for next? Any conservative even slightly in the public eye is at risk, and in this Internet era of intense media scrutiny, conservatives stand to lose more than merely taking a slap on the wrist. There are three behemoths in society dominated by the left that conservatives must take on: education, media and the legal system. Conservatives have started making inroads on the first two, while giving the legal system a pass for too long. Time to wake up before youre next.
A Republican being a saint is not good enough for the devils who are the democrats who are in charge...
According to reporting in DC metro area news, while he was not sentenced to the max, it was also felt that community service was not enough. In addition much was made of the unhealthy influence of his wife who was depicted as money grubbing, unhappy and greedy. It was also reported that he was so busy dealing with the problems of governing, that he either paid little attention to her deteriorating behavior patterns, or felt he had to wait until his term was over to get her the help she seemed to need. I am not saying this is what I believe, but what the news sources in general were reporting.
We need to begin holding the Democrats to this same standard.
Very splashy trials of the self proclaimed leader AND their media sycophants and butt kisser, with LONG prison sentences and huge fines to get the point across that they work for US...
The corruption within our Government on all levels is breathtaking.
Our country desperately needs to stop this or we will become a third world Banana Republic with the Democrats in charge.
It won't work without the media.
If the media were fair, this would not have happened and their current gov would be in prison.
Here’s an important fact conveniently ignored by the Washington Compost and Democratic prosecutors: when Bob McDonnell entered office, it was legal for a sitting governor in Virginia to accept gifts from literally anyone, including individuals who wanted to do business with the state.
Two of McDonnell’s Democratic prosecutors, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, took thousands of dollars in gifts during their tenures as governor; both are now members of the U.S. Senate. As with McDonnell, there is no evidence Warner or Kaine ever granted any illegal favors for individuals who gave them various gifts, and quite naturally, there was never any attempt to prosecute them.
As many on FR are quite aware, Warner DID suggest a federal judgeship for the daughter of a retiring Democratic state senator last year. In exchange, the politician would cancel plans to leave the state legislature, a move that allowed the GOP to regain control of the state senate. Warner’s illegal offer was widely documented in last year’s Senate race, but to date, there has been no formal investigation (that I’m aware of), and the Democrats running the U.S. attorney offices in Virginia wouldn’t dream of filing charges against Senator Warner.
McDonnell’s behavior was sleazy, but as Lanny Davis (and others) have observed, the case against him is a prime example of targeted prosecution.
Apparently the GOP hasn’t learned a rather obvious lesson: the Dims will use ALL tools at their disposal to target any Republican politician deemed to be a threat. Without the court case, McDonnell could have easily beaten Warner or Kaine in a future Senate race. Now, his life and career are ruined, and the Dims have one less Republican to worry about.
Looks like Bob is going to walk, pretty easy to show that the Judge was biased over his wife not getting her Judgeship.
Nope, no conflict of interest there.
Judge James Spencer was appointed to the bench by Reagan, but it is reported that he and his wife are both Democrats.
Lesson to GOP Presidents, never appoint rats to anything unless they are Senate/House members who's seats you can take (ala Tony Hall).
The exception that proved the rule iwas Supreme Court Justice Pierce Butler, a Democrat from Minnesota appointed by President Harding; Butler was one of the best SCOTUS Justices in history, certainly the greatest in the 75 years between John Marshall Harlan’s retiremeny and Antonin Scalia’s appointment.
Butler's not the only exception to the rule. There were a couple of other Democrats appointed to the SCOTUS who turned out to be solid conservatives (and I'm not even counting center-right appointees like Byron White).
One of the strangest to me was justice James Clark McReynolds. He was not only a lifelong RAT, but ALSO a Woodrow Wilson appointee and had already served as Attorney General under Wilson, so one would assume he was a freakin' socialist "progressive" RAT. Instead, he turned out to be one of the staunchest conservatives on the court and was part of the "Four Horsemen" (along with the aforementioned Pierce Butler) who consistently struck down FDR's New Deal programs as unconstitutional. (the other two justices, George Sutherland and Willis Van Devanter, were both conservative Republicans and had been appointed by conservative GOP Presidents -- Taft and Coolidge)
Another example of a rare "conservative Democrat" nominee from a Republican President was Stephen J. Field, a Lincoln appointee. Field was quite openly a registered Democrat, but he was a pro-union Dem during the civil war so Lincoln probably appointed him as one of the gestures to get the pro-union Dems on his side during his re-election in 1864 (similar to naming Andrew Johnson as veep). Unlike the disastrous Johnson, Field stayed on the court many years and proved to be an excellent supporter of limited government In fact, he was probably more libertarian than conservative. The "Lincoln was a marxist" neo-confederates can stick that in their pipe and smoke it.
Of course, the reverse has sadly happened numerous times -- a conservative Republican president accidentally appointed a backstabbing commie. Coolidge got it wrong too, and the judge he appointed (Harlan F. Stone) ended up becoming an activist liberal judge and was later elevated by FDR to be Chief Justice. I wonder if Stone was the David Souter/John Paul Stevens of his day.
If the rule is that Republicans shouldn’t appoint Democrats, then McReynolds can’t be an exception to the rule, since he was appointed by a Democrat.
BTW, Butler’s votes and opinions were much better than McReynolds’s—really, Butler was ahead of his time on many issues. Butler was a bit weak on enforcing the Equal Protection Clause against clear racial discrimination by states, which made him a man of his times at least on that topic, but he wasn’t a virulent racist and anti-Semite like McReynolds.
Well, those attributes at least made McReynolds a much better DEMOCRAT than Butler. ;-)
My example with Stephen J. Field fits the "exception to the rule" premise though. He was a Democrat justice appointed by a Republican president. I would say his voting record and judicial philosophy was comparable to Scalia and Butler, though the three of them came from radically different eras in U.S. history.
Poor, poor politicians getting thrown in jail because the simply did not understand that they can’t take sweetheart loans from sleazy businessmen. They can’t take rolexes, shopping sprees. They can’t get their daughters weddings catering bills paid for.
It’s almost like it’s illegal to have your friends give you free stuff just because you were elected to be governor.
McDonnell deserves jail. He got it, and he’s trying to weasel out of it. Anyone who defends him is a fool.
His fate should be that of every corrupt politician.
He’s a scumbag. do your time, you poor confused hair-splitter POS.
The literal pile of loot did him in to the jury. It was right there in front of them, and they were supposed to believe the law was too confusing?
Yes, Field may be a better counterexample, but in the early-to-mid 1860s the Republican Party was less than a decade old and was still attracting a lot of longtime Democrats (Salmon Chase himself was an anti-slavery Democrat until 1857 or so),, so I don’t think of Field as a Democrat.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.