11:00am August 9, 2013

Equal Justice? Why Hasn’t Bob McDonnell Been Indicted?


Question: How is it that the Governor of Virginia hasn’t been indicted on corruption charges?

Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell has been quick to remind everyone that “he hasn’t broken any state laws” as revelation after revelation has come out (none of which he has denied…) on an endless number of undisclosed “gifts” from a rich businessman.  Nothing was “wrong” under the law, but then — whoops — he then repaid the millionaire businessman.  It appears clear, as it has for months, that the Governor violated state law by not disclosing the gifts.  The repayments the Governor has now made include $52,278.17 for a “loan” to the Governors wife in 2011 and $71,837.00 for two other “loans” in 2012 as well as $15,000 to pay for the wedding of McDonnell’s daughter.  That transaction had McDonnell’s signature on it.  Will McDonnell repay the $53,000 a lawyer protecting him in this fiasco billed Virginia? No word on that yet.

Additionally, the governor’s wife spent money from the governor’s PAC at Nordstom’s and Bergdorf-Goodman.  Sounds a lot like what former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr’s wife Sandi was prosecuted for doesn’t it?  Is the U.S. Attorney in Richmond asleep? The Governor has received $120,000 in trips and gifts from a business man he then did a big favor for.  The Governor hosted a product endorsement event at the the Governor’s mansion. What else has to happen for there to be an indictment?

Equal Justice Under the Law? After watching the investigations of Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., the indictment of radio host Warren Ballentine and the numerous investigations of members of the DC City Council, does anyone truly believe there is equal justice under the law in relation to corruption cases?  The Justice Department sure can find the energy when it comes to certain cases.  In 2006, after DoJ “suspected” former Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-LA) of bribery, they undertook the never-before-seen unprecedented act of raiding a congressional office on Capitol Hill. All that energy.  Then surprise! Jefferson then received the longest sentence ever handed down to a congressman in American history.  Sentencing and prosecution on lower levels show there is a sentencing disparity for the same crimes in black and white (with Blacks sentenced 20% longer) in effect, two forms of justice.  Why is there any reason to believe the disparity would be any different regarding public officials on a higher level?

Former Rep. Harold Ford, Sr. was indicted in 1987 for “corruption” and nothing came of it. “In 1987, federal prosecutors obtained an indictment against Ford from a grand jury in heavily Republican and predominantly white eastern Tennessee. The indictment was based on testimony from two bankers convicted of bank fraud who had agreed in a plea bargains to testify against Ford in return for a reduction in their sentences,” wikipedia reads about Ford’s case.  In 1993, Ford was acquitted.

Ford went through three trials.  All that energy.  Of course federal prosecutors should be energetic in finding and prosecuting corruption. But where is the energy in the matter of Gov. McDonnell with $120,000 in luxury gifts to McDonnell and members of his family?


About the Author

Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is an opinion journalist, comms expert and political analyst focused on justice reform policy. She created Crewof42.com, a blog that covers the work of Black members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke was a staffer for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and Director of Communications for Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). She has had a very diverse career in politics and media and appears regularly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin, Hardball and Up on MSNBC, WVON in Chicago, WURD in Philadelphia and WOL and WHUR in Washington, D.C. She is currently the Managing Editor of Politic365 and a contributing writer for TheRoot and NBC Black where she writes opinion and analysis. Additionally, Ms. Burke has been a contract photographer for Associated Press since 2004. She has authored three books of photography including two on President Obama's 2008 campaign for the presidency and one with Marvel Comics publisher Stan Lee. Ms. Burke was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up on Long Island. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. Here e-mail is: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @LVBurke. Instagram: LVB325.



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  1. I wonder if McDonnell has a deal with Obama and is pulling a Christie – turn Democrat so the the attempted tax fraud indictment never sees a grand jury.


    “In a stunning move, NJ Chris Christie announced to a group of supporters with former President Clinton that he would seek reelection in 2014 as a democrat. The move comes after months of odd behavior from the former NJ republican.”

    • Sheesh

      You did notice the “political satire” comment on that page, did you not? Why wouldn’t you believe it though, if you like a far right nut job like Rand Paul.

  2. Vic

    It’s very simple. Virginia’s laws allow for Governor McDonnell to do the things he’s done. He has not been proven to have violated the law. DC and Maryland have different guidelines, hence their folks are now in prison.

  3. […] Contrasting the cases of former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Lauren Victoria Burke and Field Negro argue that Black politicians are punished particularly harshly for […]

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