Lately, Virginia politics has shifted to an ethics probe surrounding Governor Bob McDonnell. Yesterday, Bearing Drift, the largest conservative blog in the state, reported that the governor would resign, a rumor denied by the governor’s staff.
To recap for those who haven’t been following this story, Bob McDonnell has recently come under fire as a result of an FBI investigation which discovered that one of his donors has given the governor and his family thousands of dollars in unreported gifts including paying a substantial sum for the wedding of the governor’s daughter and giving the executive a multi-thousand dollar Rolex watch. State Senator Chap Peterson is the first (and so far only) legislator calling upon the governor to resign.
But what does Governor McDonnell think about possible ethics violations? Well, if we rewind the clock four years, we come across the case of Phil Hamilton, a former member of the House of Delegates who lost his seat in a scandal involving Old Dominion University. Almost as soon as the allegations were made, before any charges were filed, McDonnell, along with Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Virginia Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins, called for Hamilton to resign. He stated, “From what I have seen of published news accounts containing emails and admissions, it appears that Delegate Hamilton has violated the public trust. Based on this public information it would be in the best interests of his constituents for him to step down…” McDonnell went on to add “…but if he believes that the due process of a full inquiry by the House Ethics Advisory Panel will clear his name, he should have a full opportunity to present his case.” McDonnell, like his cohorts, were quick to condemn Hamilton without either a trial or full ethics inquiry, choosing instead a course which he thought would best help the party and his own chances during his 2009 run for governor. Then State Senator Ken Cuccinelli stood alone in his conviction that Hamilton, like anyone accused of a crime, ought to have his day in court before being thrown under the bus by his party and his running mates.
So, will Bob McDonnell resign based upon these charges? Well, if he wished to remain morally consistent he would do so. After all, if the mere charges of bribery and corruption were enough to bring down a delegate in 2009, surely this line of thinking would be constant for a governor in 2013 as well. Unfortunately, especially in politics, far too many politicians live in a world where they insist on a certain moral code…as long as it applies to everyone but the person advocating the code.
Yes, the charges levied against Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell are deeply troubling and, if proven true, he ought to resign his office. Whether the governor survives this scandal or whether he ends up sharing a cell alongside Delegate Hamilton, it is all but certain that this once rumored 2016 presidential contender’s political career has reached its zenith. However, the hypocrisy of the whole situation is not lost on this blogger. Remember, as Bob McDonnell said in 2009, “Elected officials must keep the highest ethical standards in order to maintain the public trust.”
Is Bearing Drift’s prediction of a resignation in the works? I suppose the answer to this question hinges upon the severity of the charges and the evidence against McDonnell. Either way, I expect we will find out in the coming days.