Did Bob McDonnell get off easy?

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Lots of debate about the two-year prison sentence handed down by a federal judge to former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell Tuesday afternoon.

Prosecutors wanted at least six years behind bars.  Defense attorneys wanted no jail time, just community service, if anything.  The case goes to a federal appeals court for review.

Judge James Spencer said he felt sorry for McDonnell but said a “price has to be paid” for breaking the law.

“No one wants to see a former governor of this great Commonwealth in this kind of trouble,” the judge said.

Some hoped McDonnell would get at least 10 years behind bars.

Is two years enough?  That can be argued.

But two years leaves McDonnell without the right to vote or other rights of a citizen.  He faces disbarment, which leaves him without his primary way to earn a living.

He is a disgraced governor and the first one to go to jail in the Commonwealth.

What remains is the sentencing of his wife, Maureen, the one he and his lawyers and his daughters claimed as the one really to blame.

Spencer sent a message in his statements Tuesday that he is not buying the “it’s all Maureen’s fault” arguments.  He said McDonnell blatantly ignored his advisers about the relationship with Jonnie Williams.

Said Spencer:

It breaks my heart, but I have a duty and a responsibility that I can’t avoid. This entire case has been tragic from beginning to end. Why do good people wind up in this courtroom? … I don’t have an answer yet.

The judge ordered McDonnell to surrender to federal prison authorities on Feb. 9.  His attorneys, of course, are asking he remain free pending appeal.

“Judge Spencer, I stand before you as a heartbroken and humbled man,” McDonnell told the judge.

He is also a convicted felon headed for prison.


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