Maureen McDonnell likes nice things.
That became clear in a 43-page, 14-count indictment issued Tuesday detailing the relationship between the McDonnells — Maureen and her husband, Bob, a.k.a. the former Virginia governor — and wealthy businessman Jonnie Williams.
What Maureen McDonnell allegedly took from Williams reads like an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”: Shopping trips to Bergdorf Goodman, shoes from Louis Vuitton and dresses from Oscar de la Renta. Trips in a private plane and a Ferrari. A Rolex watch for her husband inscribed “71st Governor of Virginia.”
In fact, while the spotlight has shone most brightly on Bob McDonnell during this scandal, it’s his wife who dominates the indictment and comes across as a force for much of what authorities say happened.
“We are broke, have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt already, and this Inaugural is killing us!!” Maureen McDonnell wrote in an email to an aide on the eve of her husband being sworn in as governor. Enter Williams, who wanted attention for a new dietary supplement his company, Star Scientific, had created. And the rest, as they say, is history that will be dragged out in legal proceedings.
The former governor asserted Tuesday night that “I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams” and vowed to fight the charges. He also rejected a plea deal that would have exempted his wife from charges, according to Washington Post reporting.
The indictment certainly doesn’t make the former governor look good. But it also paints an unflattering picture of Virginia’s former first lady, who is cast as a political spouse who forgot that just because you can have something doesn’t mean you should take it.
Maureen McDonnell, for trying too hard to live beyond your bottom line, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Chris Cillizza covers the White House for The Washington Post and writes The Fix, its politics blog.