Embattled Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell lost a key ally Monday in conservative radio show host John Fredericks, who called for the Republican leader to step down.
Fredericks, the host of a self-titled radio show in Virginia on which McDonnell has frequently appeared, said the governor’s on-going scandal involving Virginia businessman Jonnie Williams has made a “trampling and mocking of the public trust.” He called on McDonnell to resign.
“The legality of these financial moves is moot,” Fredericks said. “It’s about trust — and I believe the McDonnells have now given that away.”
McDonnell and his wife, first lady Maureen McDonnell, were reportedly meeting separately Monday with federal prosecutors for several hours behind closed doors, answering questions as part of an FBI probe into their relationship with Williams and his Virginia-based business, Star Scientific.
So far two Democratic state senators have said McDonnell should leave office before his term ends in January, but there has not been any widespread movement to force the once-popular governor to quit. Fredericks, who was a major supporter of McDonnell, is by far the most prominent Republican in the state to call for the governor's resignation.
A spokesman for McDonnell declined to respond to Fredericks’ comments.
McDonnell and his wife accepted thousands of dollars worth of gifts from Williams, including travel, lodging, clothes, and a Rolex watch. They also got more than $120,000 in loans from Williams, who not only contributed heavily to McDonnell and his political action committee but gave five-figure wedding gifts to two of McDonnell’s daughters.
McDonnell has argued that state law does not require elected officials to list gifts to family members on their annual financial disclosure forms and so no laws were broken.
The latest revelations, uncovered by the Washington Post, allege that Maureen McDonnell borrowed money from Williams to buy stock in William's company, Star Scientific. Both McDonnells have promoted Antabloc, a tobacco-based supplement that is critical to Star Scientific’s financial rebound, but the company has not received any other aid from the state.
Bob McDonnell insists he knew nothing about the stock purchases of his wife, who more and more appears to be the central target of the FBI investigation. Fredericks said it was “gross” that McDonnell’s new private PR team was shifting the blame to the first lady.
“The concept and claim that Bob McDonnell did not know what his wife was doing with tens of thousands of dollars is laughable and intellectually disingenuous,” Fredericks said.
Williams has agreed to testify in the case and reportedly won’t be punished for his role in the saga. McDonnell and his family have returned of the gifts his family received from Williams.
On the same day Fredericks was calling on McDonnell to resign, Paul Goldman, a former Democratic Party chairman in the state and prominent blogger on the liberal site “Blue Virginia” said the governor and first lady should not be indicted.