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Del. Ken Plum: The Legacy of Bob McDonnell

by Del. Ken Plum — September 10, 2014 at 1:00 pm 24 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoI had no idea what to expect when the jury announced it had reached its verdicts on the charges against former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen, but when the verdicts were announced I was stunned.

The jury of seven men and five women left no doubt in their findings: eleven counts of guilty for the former Governor and nine counts of guilty for his wife! All the efforts to explain away their behavior, redefine their relationship, and nuance words and actions were not successful.

Virginia has now achieved the level of disdain we have held towards governors of other states in similar circumstances.  We have a former governor found guilty of corruption in office.  Somehow with Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson having occupied that seat, it was not supposed to happen in Virginia.

Bob McDonnell is the last person anyone would have thought would have brought this legacy to Virginia. He served his country in the military. He has three degrees from a Christian university. He married a professional cheerleader from a major league football team. The thesis for his masters’ degree spelled out an old-fashioned morality that he thought was essential for how people should behave. He was a prosecuting attorney finding others guilty of crimes in order to keep his community safe. He represented his community in the House of Delegates where he introduced bills that included one for a covenant marriage. His first statewide elective office was Attorney General responsible for seeing that Virginia’s laws were fairly interpreted. His win for Governor was by a wide margin. He appeared squeaky clean.

The jury heard in detail what happened during his term as governor and determined he was guilty of corruption.  That is the way our system of justice works.  Not only is his legacy tarnished so too is that of his wife and family. For the Governor and his family on a personal level, they have my thoughts and sincere prayers. There will be an appeal, no doubt. Whatever the criminal justice system does with the case under appeal will not restore the man to the elevated position he had in the public’s mind when he became governor.

We need to turn our attention now to the legacy for Virginia. Maybe we Virginians had it coming for we had become somewhat pompous over our reputation for the clean government we thought we had. Despite some cynics’ views, virtually all elected officials and government employees are honest, hard-working people who want to do their best for the Commonwealth. For those who do not fit this category we need to participate in a whistle-blowing exercise that will expose any who are putting their selfish gain above the public good. And the legislature needs to do more work on its conflict of interest and ethics laws.  Maybe those changes can become the legacy of Bob McDonnell.

Ken Plum represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Reston Now.

  • Mike M

    “. . . virtually all elected officials and government employees are honest, hard-working people who want to do their best for the Commonwealth.”

    Count me among the cynics. Ken, you seem most interested in making your left-wing constituency feel good all so you can get re-elected and bring in enough money to give you clout in the party. I base that on your track record and your vapid feel-good articles addressed to the electorate. How about you talk to us about what’s up for vote in the House of Delegates? What shall you propose and why?

    • justsayin

      Let me remind you the former gov’ner was a republican. The corrupt one.

      • Mike M

        And your point is . . . ?

      • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

        Just wait. McAwful is one of the most dishonest people I’ve ever seen. He will surely be indicted before his term is over.

    • Rational Reston

      Oh, you want Delegate Plum to actually DO something. The next original idea he has will be his first.

  • HP

    Is it just me or is RN becoming a platform for Pets of the Week and Ken Plum pushing his own agenda?? Seems that’s all I see nowadays…

    • Karen Goff

      Just wednesdays

      • HP

        Thanks, Note to self

        • Ugh

          Yup. Blah blah blah it’s always drivel and self-righteous posturing. As usual, he says NOTHING specifically relevant to Reston.

          • Mike M

            And apparently, he knows he doesn’t have to.

            Too many Restonians zombie into the polls and crank the lever with the ‘D’ next to it.” They are easy. They just want to know who will simply allude to left wing concepts. Meanwhile they are baffled at the skyrocketing tolls on the toll road that was supposed to be free after the tolls paid it off.

            My advice to even the lefties: Purge. Hold your nose and vote for a GOP person. You might be amazed at the fact that they actually speak to the issues and curb the taxes. If not, you can always get rid of them in two years and get another person who will understand accountability.

  • Consis Tently-Wright

    The verdict is stunning – not only to Ken – but also to me and perhaps others if you dare to think a little deeper. The reality is that the Governor did not break any Virginia laws. Instead, the verdict is derived from federal laws which prohibit the giving of gifts etc. So there exists a double standard and just living in Virginia does not mean that federal law would or could not apply. This may have far reaching consequences, so before you chuckle and make fun of the republicans just think of what impact this may have for you!

    • brbr2424

      There are no federal laws prohibiting the giving of gifts. He wasn’t charged with receiving gifts. He was charged with selling his office. i.e.. corruption. The gifts were the payments received in close proximity to the actions McDonnell took to help promote the antabloc product. Quid Pro Quo. Facts matter.

      • Jenny Gibbers

        He said she said. Keep reading the tabloids.

      • Consis Tently-Wright

        “I think the case clearly pushes the boundary of ‘official act’ out a bit farther, and I think that’s quite potentially important,” said Patrick O’Donnell, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis. “It’s striking that here, McDonnell was not convicted on any traditional exercise of gubernatorial power. It wasn’t about a budget or a bill or a veto or appointment or a regulation.”

        “When prosecutors win a conviction as overwhelmingly and as quickly as they did in this case, it does embolden prosecutors,” said Jacob Frenkel, a former federal prosecutor now at the Shulman Rogers firm. “When the government sees success with a theory line or prosecutorial strategy, that gets noticed.”

        The experts have spoken.

        • brbr2424

          I see you have backed off from your claim that a federal law prohibiting gift giving was applied. With any position, however flimsy, some pundit can be found to support it, and you found a defense attorney no less. The jury, comprised of members who had voted for him, asked themselves one simple question. Would Williams have given the McDonnells the gifts if McDonnell had not been governor. The answer was clearly no. McDonnell used his position as governor to promote a dubious product, in exchange for cash.

          Ironically they were found not guilty of lying on the bank loan application. The applicant swears under penalty of perjury that the financial information provided is correct. They got a gift with that. Maureen was found guilty of obstruction of justice for sending the used clothes, shoes and purses back to Williams with a note referencing a verbal agreement that never happened, that the items were loaners all along.

          • Publius68

            Look. I agree that McD was an idiot to accept these gifts from JW (totally stupid and idiotic and unethical), but the issue is not whether “Williams [would] have given the McDonnells the gifts if McDonnell had not been governor.” That is the whole problem with this case (and its precedent).

            Of course JW wouldn’t have given McD any gifts or contributions if he wasn’t Governor!! No Governor (or other local/state/federal elected official) would receive any contributions or gifts but for their position (or candidacy).

            The real issue/question is whether McD did any “official act” in return for those gifts or contributions and i don’t see what JW got for his money. I think the Judge got it wrong when his jury instructions defined a meeting, call, email, reception, etc as an “official act.”

      • Publius68

        Although McD was stupid to put himself in this position, I still don’t see what JW got for his money. There was no quid pro quo.

        A meeting or a call or an email or even a reception at the Gov’s Mansion is not “quo.” Something for something means something. JW got nothing.

        • Constitutional Reset from VA i

          And stupid to be compromised for so little money. His hubris and criminal conceit have long been evidenced in the public record. But certainly McDonnell was too important to be able to perpetrate VA18.2-111 Embezzelment and VA18.2-481(5) Treason.

    • Constitutional Reset from VA i

      addressed above.

  • Dave…

    Can’t wait ’til we’re reading “the legacy of Ken Plum” because that will mean we won’t have to read more of this drivel. This guy is 71, and has been in politics since 1982… Seriously, can we get some fresh people in office?

  • Helen Dunn

    What’s with all this praying for Bob McDonnell? As Governor he should have known that even the appearance of impropriety should be avoided. This man sold his office for less than 200,000 dollars. Also the degrees from Christian Colleges do not equal honesty to me.Combined with expensive suits and watches that should be a tip off that it might be advisable to check into financial dealings.

  • Barry Weinstein

    Thank you Delegate Plum. Well said!

  • Constitutional Reset from VA i

    Re: Bob McDonnell’s fall

    As much as Federal jurisdiction over Bob McDonnell’s crimes relies on 18 U.S. Code § 1343 ‘interstate commerce’ or 18 U.S. Code § 1341 ‘s US Mail the appeals court may have to declare a mistrial and transfer the retrial to a Virginia court of competent jurisdiction.

    Virginia’s ethics statutes are plenty strong. Our problem is not with our statutes.

    In VA, under VA18.2-111, when a person receives a gift or ANYTHING from someone other than their employer that they received by virtue of their holding an office belonging to their employer then that thing received belongs to their office not to their person, If the receiver converts the ‘gift’ to their personal property then they have, according to VA statute, perpetrated embezzlement and larceny. Custom does not make it less of a felony – Regarding criminal intent: Bob McDonnell knew the law and knew that he was deemed to know the law by the law – as are ALL officers or the VA Supreme Court (i.e. lawyers). Bob McDonnell’s conclusively evidenced in public record root felony is a presumption that he is so important that “Resisting the execution of the laws under the color of its authority” [VA18.2-481(5) Statutory Treason] is his prerogative and is the prerogative of all people of his class.

    The problem is that Virginia’s Judges & Commonwealth Attorneys have made grand juries ineffective contrary to duly authorized law. No complaint of criminal conduct can be brought to a grand jury by any just MERE citizen. That raises the in-crowd above the reach of the law. And it turns YOU into a mere chattle ruled by the ‘Uniform Commercial Code’ and mere presumption when ever it is convenient.

  • G21

    Folks: The story of man-made global warming is a story of science fiction conjured up to advance a counter-Western political ideology.

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