No grants, though the governor controlled at least two state funds, with millions of dollars available a year.
- McDonnell trial: Maureen McDonnell again the focus of testimony as defense begins
- Maureen McDonnell was again the subject of testimony Monday.
- Full coverage of McDonnell trial: Coverage of the indictment and trial of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen
- Bob McDonnell
- Colleges and Universities
- Student Loans and Grants
See more topics »
No government appointments, no site visits and no executive orders to help Star or advance its chief product, Anatabloc.
“The Boy Scout of the year,” former Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Kelly said of her old boss. “Mr. Honest.”
Of course, McDonnell isn’t accused of doing any of these things in the 14-count, 43-page indictment against him and his wife. The couple is accused of arranging meetings, hosting and attending events geared toward Star, encouraging university researchers to study Anatabloc and giving Star’s then-CEO, Jonnie R. Williams Sr., an unusual power to invite guests to events at the governor’s mansion, all while taking more than $177,000 from Williams in gifts and loans.
The McDonnell defense, which began rolling out its case Monday after nearly three weeks of witnesses and evidence from the prosecution, says there was no tit-for-tat in the relationship. The governor treated Williams and his business like any other Virginia company, even though he easily could have been more helpful than he was, attorneys argued.
Kelly, formerly Janet Polarek, testified that she could have invited her own doctor to a health care leaders reception that Williams helped draft a guest list. Other cabinet secretaries said they held so many meetings at the governor’s behest they could never remember them all, and that the governor rarely followed up.
They felt empowered, they said, to do whatever they felt was right.
The defense also honed back in on the governor’s wife, Maureen McDonnell.
Henry Asbill, one of Bob McDonnell’s lead attorneys, pushed Kelly for details about the first lady’s erratic behavior, which has already been documented repeatedly in this trial.
Part of the governor’s defense — and the first lady’s, since she likely won’t be proven guilty of corruption if he isn’t — is that Maureen McDonnell was an unhappy, lonely woman taken with the smooth-talking, wealthy Williams and his fascinating claims about Anatabloc.
“I don’t want to just pile on,” Kelly said Monday, tearing up a bit as Asbill waited for details.
Kelly, a family friend as well as senior administration official, described Maureen McDonnell as “very difficult, very demanding and very diva-ish” on the gubernatorial campaign trail. Once her husband took office, she drove staffers to the brink with her screams, demands and accusations, she testified.
“She would freak out at little things and just generally take it out on other people,” Kelly said.
In January 2012, a few months after Maureen McDonnell's chief of staff quit over similar issues, things boiled over. Mansion staffers wrote the first lady a letter and threatened to resign en masse, Kelly said.
They said they had a “sick feeling” whenever they looked at their phones, and the caller ID said “FLOVA” — first lady of Virginia. Kelly said she and Martin Kent, the governor’s chief of staff, asked staffers not to deliver that letter.
“She just didn't have the capacity to receive the letter...,” Kelly said. “(She was) pathologically incapable of being able to take responsibility.”
Maureen McDonnell sat quietly in court as this testimony went into the record. Her husband watched nearby, taking the occasional note. Lawyers separated them at an L-shaped arrangement of tables, as they have every day during this trial.