Chris Graham: Our governor in hock

bob-mcdonnell-linksMore troubling details about the controversy swirling around Gov. Bob McDonnell are emerging that are adding a humanizing element to the story.

The key question surrounding the disclosures that Jonnie Williams, the CEO of a diet-supplement maker named Star Scientific, has either given or loaned the McDonnell family $145,000 (at the last accounting) has been … why? What could a sitting governor making $175,000 a year ostensibly with all or at least the vast majority of expenses paid by the taxpayers need with gifts and loans in that amount?

It doesn’t appear to be simple, pure greed, but rather, according to a Washington Post report, simple, pure tough times. The Post report cast the First Family as enduring a rough patch economically in the wake of the real-estate bust that came just after the McDonnells had made several real-estate purchases at the tail end of the real-estate boom.

Reading between the lines, the McDonnells seem to have basically overextended themselves, and came to be in need of several infusions of cash, dating back to the time period when Bob McDonnell was serving as attorney general.

This is nothing that none of us hasn’t had to go through at some point in our own lives. The difference in the case of Bob McDonnell is that he’s the governor of one of the top five states for business in America, and last year was being talked about as a top contender for the Republican vice-presidential nomination.

It should be pretty obvious what the dangers are to the kind of situation that we’re seeing unfold here in this matter involving Bob McDonnell. No one is saying, right now, that McDonnell allowed himself to be influenced in any way in terms of public-policy matters by his financial ties to Williams, but isn’t that a distinct possibility given the circumstances?

(If you don’t think so, then you’ve never had to borrow money from somebody to get through a rough patch.)

Not to disparage McDonnell for going through said rough patch; we’ve all been there. Where we have a right to be upset with McDonnell is that he wasn’t more forthcoming about his personal financial situation during his gubernatorial campaign in 2009.

Maybe you change the way you vote, knowing that the governor is possibly in hock to family, friends and diet-supplement makers, maybe you don’t – but it’s something worth knowing when you head into the voting booth.


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