The Slatest

Former Virginia Governor Sentenced to Two Years In Prison for Conspiracy, Bribery, and Extortion

McDonnell arrives for sentencing.

Alex Wong/Getty

Former Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has been sentenced to two years in prison for his conviction on 11 counts of corruption, a verdict that the Washington Post calls a “win” for his defense team (though it’s more severe than the community-service time they’d asked for).

The McDonnells’ trial was marked by an unusual defense tactic in which Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen argued that they could not have conspired to commit criminal favor-trading because they were basically estranged—that she was a greedy “nutbag” who schemed for money without his knowledge. That defense didn’t work. From the WaPo:

A jury found unanimously that the couple used the governor’s office to help a wealthy dietary supplement company executive advance his business interests, and in exchange, the businessman gave the McDonnells $177,000 in loans, gifts and luxury goods.

The businessman, Jonnie R. Williams Sr., testified against the McDonnells at trial in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Maureen McDonnell is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 20.

The family’s wife-blaming strategy continued during sentencing, Slate’s Amanda Marcotte noted, as two McDonnell daughters wrote letters asking for leniency for their father and depicting their mother as a money-obsessed individual who “does not operate rationally.”

McDonnell goes down as the first Virginia governor to be convicted of a crime. Though not, by any means, the first American governor to be convicted of a crime. Governors commit lots of crime! (Nine of them have been convicted in the 21st century alone, by Wikipedia’s count.)