Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Found Guilty In Corruption Trial

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A federal jury in Richmond has found former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty in their corruption trial.

The jury of seven men and five women heard testimony from 67 witnesses and deliberated over three days before arriving at today's decision.

The trial has been a humiliating blow for the onetime rising GOP star who was elected governor in 2009 and just a few years ago was considered a possible running mate for Mitt Romney.

Shortly after he left office in January, McDonnell and his wife were accused of taking more than $165,000 worth of gifts and loans from the owner of a nutritional supplement company in exchange for political favors.

Attorneys for the McDonnells argued that as a result of the couple's disintegrating marriage, Maureen McDonnell craved attention and developed a crush on Star Scientific owner Jonnie R. Williams Sr., who testified that the couple accepted and solicited gifts from him.

"Well, the former governor, when he ran for governor, represented his family as essentially the Cleavers — bustling and wholesome," Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Jeff Schapiro told All Things Considered. "And five years later, now running for his life, his lawyers are depicting the McDonnells as the Louds — bitter and dysfunctional."

On the day he was indicted, Bob McDonnell told reporters, "I have apologized for my poor judgment, and I accept full responsibility for accepting these legal gifts and loans. However, I repeat again, emphatically, that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believe was his personal friendship and his generosity."

McDonnell said the loans had been "repaid with interest" and the gifts had been returned. He also has said that despite appearances of impropriety, there was no quid pro quo — that part of the role of governor is to support the state's businesses.

And Schapiro said there's some truth that this could be considered business as usual in Virginia.

"One wonders, given Virginia's long tradition of a business-friendly government, if perhaps some of these things took place and no one really noticed," Schapiro said. "Because for a long time, Virginia's government, like so many Southern governments, was controlled by a handful of like-minded conservative white guys. They looked out for business; business financed the political organization; the legislator came through with friendly laws and light regulation. This has been the pattern in the Commonwealth for a long, long time."

McDonnell's status as a GOP luminary was cemented when he was chosen to deliver the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union speech in 2010.

But the corruption scandal that erupted in McDonnell's final months as governor killed what was left of his political career, says Virginia politics expert Larry Sabato.

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