It just makes me sad

Steve Helber/AP Photo

Steve Helber/AP Photo

I know I keep saying that I don’t want to play politics or write about politics. But I was there for so long it’s hard to let go. It’s sort of like taking an alcoholic to happy hour.

This afternoon, the other shoe dropped in the Bob McDonnell gift scandal as the former governor and his wife, Maureen were indicted.

I don’t need to link to the news stories. They’re out there if you want to read them. Governor McDonnell just finished making a public statement. I didn’t watch, but I got this in an email today:

“My fellow Virginians, earlier today federal prosecutors notified my attorneys that they have filed criminal charges against me and my wife Maureen, alleging that we violated federal law by accepting gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of Star Scientific. I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment for which I take full responsibility. However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship. I never promised – and Mr. Williams and his company never received – any government benefit of any kind from me or my Administration. We did not violate the law, and I will use every available resource and advocate I have for as long as it takes to fight these false allegations, and to prevail against this unjust overreach of the federal government.”

Robert F. McDonnell
Former Governor of Virginia

I read a significant portion of the indictment. It looks ugly. Friends in the legal profession tell me that indictments are designed that way to make things look as bad as possible. This one looks pretty bad.

Are the McDonnell’s guilty? I don’t know. Did they break the law? I don’t know.

But, it sure smells bad. At the very least there were errors in judgment.

This pains me because I believed in Bob McDonnell, as Attorney General and as Governor. I campaigned for him, I blogged and edited on his behalf. I gave his campaign (insignificant amounts of) money. I applied for a position in his administration, and while it apparently turned out better for me that I didn’t get hired as an appointee, he did appoint me to a term on a statewide board.

But the truth is he lost me when he raised taxes for his transportation plan. That’s when my disillusionment with the whole process started.

He may not be guilty. He may not go to jail.

But, he’s lost my trust.

I’ve never been in politics to make money. I’ve been in politics because I believed in the issues, and in rare cases, sometimes believed in the politicians themselves. I’ve never quite been willing to work myself silly for a candidate or an issue in which I didn’t fully believe.

At the end of the day that’s probably why it never turned into a full time profession for me. But, that’s another story.

Today, I’m just disappointed. It’s a sad day for the Commonwealth.

Years ago I commented on a study that said Virginia had the worst ethics laws. I said at the time it was because we didn’t need them. I was wrong.

And, I apologize to New Jersey.

My friend Shaun said on Facebook today…”this will hang over the Republican Party of Virginia for decades, and rightly so.”

He’s right.

And while I’m not actively working for the Republican party anymore, I’m sad about that as well. I believed in the principles. I believed in the values.

I believed, naively, that we were “better than that.”

Obviously, we’re not.

And that’s just sad.





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