Maureen McDonnell, In Her Own Words

In her first public statement, she takes responsibility for her family’s political fall from grace

By Margo Maier | Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Throughout the investigation, trial and her conviction on graft charges, Maureen McDonnell has been quiet, never speaking publicly about the ordeal or her family’s political fall from grace.

On Friday, before she was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, she broke her silence. As the former first lady stood before U.S. District Judge James Spencer, her tone was apologetic, and she took full responsibility for the actions that led to her conviction and that of her husband, former Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The McDonnells had been found guilty of taking gifts and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams. Williams testified against the couple under immunity in July, saying he had the impression the governor would help his health supplement company, Star Scientific Inc., get research conducted at Virginia universities.

“I allowed the serpent into the mansion,” Maureen McDonnell told the court on Friday. “And the venom from that snake has poisoned my marriage, my family and the commonwealth.”

McDonnell shakily continued, addressing the judge.

“As Your Honor said, I started a chain of events that brought pain and embarrassment over all of us. It is hard for me to imagine anything worse than what I have already endured.”