When a federal judge handed down a two-year prison sentence to former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell Tuesday afternoon debate started loud and rancorous over whether or not it was enough, too much or just right.
Prosecutors wanted at least six years behind bars. Defense attorney’s 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.
Was the sentence a price or just a slap on the wrist?
Some hoped McDonnell would get at least 10 years behind bars.
Is two years enough? That can be argued.
Two years leaves McDonnell without the right to vote or other rights of a citizen. He faces disbarment and loss of his lawyer privileges, 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 of Virginia.
What remains is the sentencing of his wife, Maureen, the one he and his lawyers and his daughters claimed is the one really to blame.
They failed to convince a skeptical jury to buy their story that Mrs. McDonnell was a gold digger who played her husband and left him out to dry.
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.
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.
Spencer said Maureen may have “let the serpent into the mansion” but said was McDonnell took all that was offered and ignored those who warned him.
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.
Is that enough?
Depends on your point of view and your political leanings.
Which, in the end, means nothing.
Copyright © 2014 Capitol Hill Blue