Former Va. Gov. And Wife Face 14-Count Indictment

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife have been charged with illegally accepting gifts and loans from a political donor. The indictment, filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, marks a substantial escalation of a scandal that has marred the end of McDonnell's term in office.

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Just 10 days after leaving office, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was indicted today by federal prosecutors for corruption. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are charged with accepting gifts from a wealthy Virginia businessman.

NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: The cloud of a possible indictment hung over McDonnell's final months in office, ever since it became clear that the U.S. Attorney in Richmond was investigating the McDonnells for taking gifts and loans from Richmond businessman Jonnie Williams. Williams was CEO of Star Scientific, which manufactures dietary supplements.

Today, it became clear just how dark that cloud was. The 14-count indictment outlines how both Maureen and Bob McDonnell approached Williams for money, to pay for everything from Oscar de la Renta gowns to credit card bills, to catering expenses for their daughter's wedding. Williams paid for a golf outing, and gave the governor a $50,000 loan to help pay the mortgage on some vacation property. And at Maureen's request, he bought a Rolex for the governor.

In return, Williams sought help in getting the state to pay for studies into the scientific properties of a supplement he was trying to market. The McDonnell's hosted a reception at the governor's mansion, aimed at impressing healthcare providers, and Maureen McDonnell spoke at a company gathering.

In a statement, McDonnell apologized for accepting what he said were legal gifts and loans. And for what he called his poor judgment. But he said he had done nothing illegal.

McDonnell was seen as a rising star in the Republican Party following his election in 2009. He gave the GOP response to the president's State of the Union Address four years ago and was thought to be a possible running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012.

But as word of the investigation leaked out, McDonnell's star fell to Earth and he was even thought to have hurt Republican Ken Cuccinelli's bid to succeed him. Cuccinelli lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.

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