Republican Governor Bob McDonell of Virginia, speaking at CPAC, has little to smile about these days. (Source: Gage Skidmore, under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license)
So, two scandals have taken hold on what has been a slow news day. The first is an extension of an older, pseudo-sex-related scandal. We're not going to talk about that scandal. We're going to talk about the other, in the battleground state of Virginia. There, beleaguered Republican governor Bob McDonnell has now admitted to receiving sweetheart loans from business executive Jonnie Williams in exchange for gifts, and has repaid them, apologizing for the "embarrassment" he and his family had brought onto the state.
A little primer on the situation, for those of you who live outside Virginia and around the nation's capital: Governor McDonnell has been buddies with Williams, the CEO of pharmaceutical company Star Scientific, for some time. The closeness of this friendship has been called into question by local news media, including the Washington Post. Over time, some of the revelations that have come to light include Williams paying $15,000 for the catering of the wedding of one of McDonnell's daughters, a $15,000 Oscar de la Renta dress, a $15,000 shopping spree for McDonnell's wife Maureen at New York City luxury store Bergdorf Goodman. Williams even paid $6,500 for a Rolex Watch that Maureen gave to McDonnell on his birthday.
It seems evident that, in return for these gifts, Governor McDonnell's family received two loans from Williams totaling $120,000, with interest rates possibly below the standard rate. One of those was direct to Maureen McDonnell, while the other was a real estate loan. After the revelations came to light, McDonnell initially criticized the investigations by the media. Then federal and state investigators took on the case, looking into the McDonnells' lobbying efforts on behalf of Star Scientific's supplement Anatabloc, both in Virginia and around the country. This may have led to the governor's repayment and apology today.
Now, granted, the governor, once considered a possible candidate for the 2016 presidential election, has said that he had done nothing wrong according to state law, and will not resign his office. And any attempts to tie this into the campaign of current Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli will no doubt be absurd, not to mention very crass and obnoxious. But it is very telling that, as of press time, this will get very little press, due to the other scandal. Is it because we just find sex more scandalous because we have been trained to fear this natural act, or is it because we have been desensitized to the corruption that Big Business proliferates into Big Government? I would not be surprised if it were both. Just disappointed.