Former Va. governor testifies at corruption trial

Former Virgniia Governor Bob McDonnell spoke with reporters Wednesday outside the federal courthouse in Richmond, Va.

Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch/AP

Former Virgniia Governor Bob McDonnell spoke with reporters Wednesday outside the federal courthouse in Richmond, Va.

RICHMOND, Va. — Former Governor Bob McDonnell told jurors Wednesday that the former chief executive of a dietary supplements maker who gave him thousands of dollars in gifts and loans did not get any special treatment.

Testifying on his own behalf in his public corruption trial, the onetime Republican up-and-comer said Star Scientific founder Jonnie Williams got ‘‘mere routine, basic access to government’’ and nothing more — no state funds and no board or commission appointment.


McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Williams in exchange for promoting his company’s products.

Prosecutors say the McDonnells arranged a meeting with the state’s top health official and hosted a product launch event at the governor’s mansion.

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The former governor, making frequent eye contact with jurors while his wife sat expressionless at the defense table, said the mansion was the site of at least two other events for individual businesses and that there was nothing unusual about asking administration officials to meet with people who wanted to pitch an idea or discuss a policy matter.

Williams testified for the prosecution under immunity. He said he showered the McDonnells with gifts and loans to entice them to help him gain acceptance and state-backed research for his company’s tobacco-based anti-inflammatory, Anatabloc.

The former governor’s lawyers have suggested that Maureen McDonnell acted largely on her own to promote the product. They are on trial together, but she has her own attorneys.

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