Experts React as McDonnell Trial hits UVA
As the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell gets closer, political and legal leaders sat down to speak with NBC29.
“My view is that it is very unfortunate and does nothing for the image of Virginia on the other hand,” said Larry Sabato, director of UVA’s Center for Politics.
Sabato says the corruption trial of Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell is something new to Virginia, but not to other states. “I cannot think of a state that has not had a major public official involved in some sort of corruption trial or charge,” he said.
This week, McDonnell's lawyers subpoenaed 19 witnesses, including UVA researchers, and, according to attorney Kyle McNew with the MichieHamlett law firm, what those researchers have to say may play an important role.
“If the person who owns the company who pays for your daughter's wedding or giving you free rides in his Ferrari or is buying you dresses for your New York galas - that is the quid pro quo that the government is trying to establish here,” McNew said.
McDonnell is accused of taking gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplement company Star Scientific. Prosecutors say in return, the McDonnells doled out favors to Williams and the company, such as positioning the company in front of those UVA researchers. And, according to McNew, that may be what those researchers testify about and the reason behind this week's subpoenas.
“He would want them to say, ‘no, I never felt pressured to do any of this. No one told me study this product because the governor wants you to. I never gave a favorable review of this,’” McNew said.
It is tough to know exactly what the UVA-affiliated witnesses might say or whether they will even be called to testify, but one thing is certain: we can expect more legal maneuvering ahead of trial, which is slated to start July 28.