In 2011, the CEO of Star Scientific, Jonnie Williams Jr., bought W. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell a $6,000 Rolex watch, took McDonnell’s wife on a $20,000 shopping spree, and paid $15,000 to cater the wedding of the McDonnell’s daughter. All in all, Williams spent $177,000 in gifts and loans of the governor.
He didn’t do it out of the goodness of his heart, no more than Wall St. moguls paid the Clintons millions for making speeches. No, what he was after was to get the Governor to “push state university researchers to produce studies that could help secure Food and Drug Administration approval for the dietary supplement Anatabloc,” according to the Wall St. Journal (4/27/2016). (So much for “scientific studies”.)
Now, McDonnell is up on corruption charges. His excuse? It’s “commonplace,” he claims, and sending him to prison for this would “radically reshape politics in this nation.” As the Wall St. Journal reports: ‘“Gov. McDonnell was convicted in part for taking actions that, in the main, are indistinguishable from actions that nearly every elected official in the U.S. takes nearly every day,” the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee said in a brief.’
Yes, we have the best democracy money can buy.
Oh, and as far as the “Citizens United” Supreme Court ruling, the ruling that corporations can spend unlimited amounts in political campaigns because they have the same rights as individuals: Cases like the one of McDonnell – which “nearly every elected official… (does) every day” — these would continue, Citizens United or not.
So, contrary to all calls to “get the money out of politics,” and contrary to the claims that this is something new, it’s not. It’s how capitalist democracy has always functioned.