A barrage of emails within the governor’s mansion and office showcase a boatload of concern before a controversial event that had Bob McDonnell and his wife publicly embracing a controversial and questionable drug supplement from a former tobacco company that gave him more than 100 grand and footed the bill for catering of his daughter’s wedding.
Another report shows state first lady Maureen McDonnell got 36 grand for a few days “work” with a coal company charity — another indication that favoritism and support are for sale with the McDonnells. Mrs. McDonnell, a former Washington Redskins cheerleader, also initially lied when asked about the job.
The emails, obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal his top aides openly expressed concern over use of the governor’s mansion for the event, wanted changes in a press release so it would water down the governor’s involvement and suggested the governor should not even attend the function.
McDonnell, as he so often does, ignored the concerns and wrapped his arms about the new drug supplement introduced by Star Scientific, a former tobacco company that is using an ingredient from the cancer-causing cigarettes in the product.
Wrote Tucker Martin of McDonnell’s staff to the First Lady’s chief of staff:
I don’t understand this? We are doing an event with them? Are we sure we can do something like this?
Matt Conrad, McDonnell’s chief of staff and a lawyer in another life, responded by writing “you were exactly right to be suspicious.” The exchange set off many followup emails along with changes in the company’s press release about the event.
McDonnell’s relationship with Star and its CEO, Jonnie Williams, is part of a probe into the governor’s activities by the FBI. Williams gave more than $100,000 to McDonnell’s campaign and paid for 15 grand worth of catering for the governor’s daughter.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli also has a questionable and ethics-challenged relationship with Williams. He failed to report his ownership of stock in the company and has stayed for free at Williams’ plush Smith Mountain Lake mansion on more than one occasion.
So we have a governor involved in questionable activities and the man who wants to replace him at the new boss of Virginia also involved.
The mafia has a saying for this: New boss, same as the old boss.