Ex-Virginia governor talks about marriage at trial


Associated Press

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 21 at 11:03 AM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's public service took a toll on his marriage and his wife developed something of a separate life as she raised their five children, McDonnell said Thursday during the second day of his testimony.

McDonnell's rocky relationship with the former first lady, Maureen, is a key part of their defense at their public corruption trial. Their attorneys have said they couldn't have conspired together because they were hardly talking.

McDonnell said early in his career he devoted time to being a state legislator, Army Reservist and lawyer in private practice.

"We spent more time talking about the business of living as opposed to our relationship," said McDonnell, whose testimony was often punctuated with long, heavy pauses before a packed courtroom.

McDonnell said his wife resented his long stretches away from the family and the tension of their marriage escalated as McDonnell's political career took off. He said things were made worse when he moved his family from their long-time home in Virginia Beach to Richmond when he became attorney general in 2006.

The former governor and his wife are charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's dietary supplements.

During his testimony, McDonnell said that while his wife enjoyed some parts of the political world, she grew anxious in the spotlight.

"She was a mom and she did it very well. The public life was one that caused her more stress," McDonnell said.

Other witnesses, including several former Maureen McDonnell aides, have testified that she was miserable as first lady. She hated public speaking and the loss of privacy, and she was prone to angry outbursts.

Bob McDonnell also testified that his wife had once used one of his campaign lists when he was attorney general to try and market vitamins without his knowledge. McDonnell said he was angered by the move and told his wife she couldn't do that. His defense lawyers have suggested that McDonnell was unaware of many aspects of Maureen McDonnell's relationship with Williams, including some of the gifts she received.