The Campaign Spot

Bob McDonnell: Lots of Governors Get Expensive Gifts from Donors.

Swell.

The reference is to this post, which begins,

It’s bothersome when an elected official accepts an expensive gift from a donor or person who has business before the state or federal government; even when there’s no explicit quid pro quo, there’s the nagging sense that the official is profiting off their office.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, is ending his term with a daily stream of odious stories of accepting gifts from donors — more than $150,000 in gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of a nutritional supplement maker.

However, it’s worth noting that McDonnell is not the first Virginia governor to accept large gifts from donors while in office. He seems to just be the first one to get a lot of grief from the Washington Post day after day about it.

Of course, those other expensive gifts to Tim Kaine and Mark Warner listed in that blog post were disclosed on the proper public-disclosure forms.

The McDonnell defense is as follows:

The government decided to invent an unprecedented legal theory that eradicates all limitations on federal bribery law. That theory would — if applied neutrally — outlaw basic political practices, making criminals of not only the President, but also the Governor’s Democratic predecessor. After all, the President routinely participates in corporate events which lend credibility to his major benefactors,1 invites benefactors to events at the White House, allows his photo to be taken with benefactors, and includes benefactors in policy discussions with senior administration officials.2

Likewise, Governor McDonnell’s predecessor, Governor Kaine, took thousands of dollars in gifts during his time in office,3 while often taking actions to help those benefactors.4

The federal government has never before indicted a senior public official for engaging in such routine political conduct. That is, no doubt, because such conduct does not violate federal law.

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