Another pol on feds' hit list

The Commonwealth of Virginia and the Land of Lincoln now have something in common.

Illinois has way more than its share of political corruption. But as recent events in Virginia show, it doesn't have a monopoly on alleged misdeeds by high-ranking elected officials.

Last week, Robert McDonnell, the former Republican governor of Virginia, and his wife were indicted on a variety of charges in connection with their acceptance of $120,000 in gifts and loans from a businessman seeking the state's help in promoting his dietary-supplements business.

The indictment followed a lengthy investigation that blackened the reputation of a public official who was perceived as being an effective chief executive and a possible player on the national political stage. If the investigation was damaging, the details disclosed in the indictment are devastating.

The indictment reveals a grasping first couple, particularly McDonnell's wife, hitting up businessman Jonnie Williams for financial favors at every opportunity.

Viewed from hindsight, many people are asking what McDonnell and his wife were thinking as they zealously pursued cash and gifts from the businessman. But that's the wrong way to look at what happened. They found a sugar daddy and were thoroughly enjoying themselves at his expense.

The McDonnells, like many political families, were glamorous and powerful, but not rich. Maureen McDonnell complained in an email included in the indictment that the family faced deep credit card debts. Further, the McDonnell family's real estate business was suffering in the aftermath of the 2008-09 market collapse.

Surrounded on a regular basis by wealthy people who want favors from state government, the McDonnells succumbed to temptation and, when investigators began to inquire, tried to minimize and cover up their conduct.

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