UVA Center for Politics Weighs In on McDonnell Sentencing

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File Photo: Former Governor Bob McDonnell File Photo: Former Governor Bob McDonnell
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been sentenced to 2 years in prison for taking money and gifts in exchange for promoting a dietary supplement while he was in office. He will turn himself in by February.

McDonnell faces penalties beyond Tuesday's sentence in federal court. With his political career now over, the University of Virginia Center for Politics weighs in on a dark day in state politics.

The center's director, Larry Sabato, says McDonnell was very lucky in a very sad circumstance. Sabato says the two-year sentence was exceptionally light.

Beyond the sentence, Sabato says the former governor faces even more penalties because his political career is now over. Sabato says the conviction and sentence are both historic, because McDonnell is the first Virginia governor convicted of felonies and given prison time.

However, Sabato says some good news will come out of this very dark day.

“The sliver lining to this very dark cloud is that we might finally at last get a strong ethics bill out of the General Assembly. Naturally, we'll believe it when we see it, and we need to read it very carefully to make sure that the legislators haven't built into the law all kinds of loopholes they can exploit," Sabato said.

He predicts a reasonable ethics bill will pass through the General Assembly this upcoming session.

Sabato says about a dozen governors have been found guilty of serious crimes in modern American history. He says the McDonnell scandal is in the middle range of those cases.

Below are statements from lawmakers on McDonnell's sentencing.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D)

“Today's sentencing brings an end to one of the most difficult periods in the history of Virginia state government. Like many Virginians, I am saddened by the effect this trial has had on our Commonwealth's reputation for clean, effective government. As we put this period behind us, I look forward to working with Virginia leaders on both sides of the aisle to restore public trust in our government."

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford)

“I have known Bob McDonnell for a long time and consider him a close friend. I am heartbroken by the pain he and his family have suffered and by what this means for Virginia. Cessie and I offer our sincerest prayers for the McDonnell family during this difficult time.”

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