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Senator Black: "Supreme Court Reverses Governor Bob McDonnell's Conviction: Political Witch-hunt Comes to an End"

June 27, 2016

Supreme Court Reverses Governor Bob McDonnell's Conviction:

Political Witch-hunt Comes to an End

Senator Richard Black responded today to the Supreme Court Announcment:

The Supreme Court unanimously overruled the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the criminal corruption case that was lodged against Governor Bob McDonnell. From the outset, the prosecution lodged by the United States Attorney was in stark contrast with every prior ruling of the Supreme Court. McDonnell was prosecuted under the Hobbs Act which requires a quid pro quo in order to demonstrate a corrupt political act. A quid pro quo is much like a commercial contract; it is an explicit promise to do a political act for a sum of money or other thing of value.

When it appeared that Bob McDonnell might become the Republican Vice Presidential Nominee for Mitt Romney, the U.S. Attorney concocted a bizarre rationale for prosecuting him.

A fellow named Jonnie Williams was a lobbyist who befriended Governor and Mrs. McDonnell. After appearing to be a close personal friend, he purchased gifts for family members and things of that sort. No law prohibited him from doing so.

The only evidence that the Governor had done anything in return was that McDonnell sent a note to the Secretary of Health asking whether a product sold by Jonnie Williams would be of any use to the Commonwealth. When Secretary Hazel responded that it could not, the matter was dropped. Also, Maureen McDonnell, the Governor's wife, held a meeting at their mansion in which she praised the remedy Jonnie Williams was marketing. During that meeting, Bob McDonnell dropped in and said hello.

From the outset, it was clear that nothing criminal had been done. Legal experts in the field were at a loss to explain to politician clients what they could or could not do for constituents in light of this ruling. Every member of the General Assembly had done a hundred times as much for various constituents as Bob McDonnell did for Jonnie Williams.

The decision to prosecute Bob McDonnell stinks of political corruption. The words used in the case of U.S. v. Oliver North, F.2d 843 (D.C. Cir. 1990) seem tailored to this case: "...we do not countenance political trials in this country..." From beginning to end, this case represented a dangerous example of political corruption running rampant in the judiciary branch. Few things are more threatening to personal liberty than the criminalization of politics.

The Supreme Court's unanimous reversal of Governor McDonnell's conviction is, for the U.S. Supreme Court, an uncharacteristic return to the rule of law. The United States' Attorney should submit a motion forthwith asking for an order vacating the conviction of our former First Lady, Maureen McDonnell. I know Maureen personally, and it has been heartbreaking to watch the liberal press smear and distort the character of this fine woman. Not only should the prosecutor and judiciary be ashamed of themselves for using the judicial process as a political bludgeon, but the media should be mortified looking back on the torrent of deliberate lies and distortions against Maureen. They were more than willing to slander the good name of a decent woman in order to bring down their ultimate political target--Governor Bob McDonnell.

end of statement

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