The Witch-hunt Against Bob McDonnell

In recent years, conservative politicians have found themselves prosecuted not for the types of crimes elected officials committed in the past like theft, bribery and nepotism, but instead for nebulous sounding activity, the kind where it is difficult to understand why exactly something was wrong. It has proven easy for Democrat prosecutors to convict each “ham sandwich” victim, because the laws have become so vast, vague and complex that the public – including those serving as jurors – cannot understand them.

On January 7, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a conservative Republican once considered a leading contender for President, was sentenced by a judge to two years in federal prison. A jury found him guilty of 19 counts of honest services wire fraud, obtaining property under color of official right, and extortion under color of official right in September for accepting more than $177,000 in loans and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams, the head of a dietary supplements company, who was later invited to the governor’s mansion and his cabinet. McDonnell’s wife Maureen was convicted of similar charges and will be sentenced later this month. McDonnell repaid more than  $120,000 to Williams in 2013, before he was indicted, but prosecutors didn’t care.

Federal District Court Judge James R. Spencer could have sentenced McDonnell to community service, but instead threw the book at him. Tellingly, it came out in December that McDonnell had opposed the appointment of Spencer’s wife 18 years ago to the Virginia State Supreme Court during a partisan battle in the state legislature. McDonnell nominated someone else instead, and Margaret Spencer never made it onto the State Supreme Court, instead becoming a Circuit Court judge in Richmond. Judge James Spencer was appointed to the bench by Reagan, but it is reported that he and his wife are both Democrats. At a minimum, Judge James Spencer should have recused himself from the case. McDonnell plans to appeal, and it is inconceivable the appellate court would not throw out the decision in part based on that glaring and offensive conflict of interest.

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