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Former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are on trial in Richmond, Va., accused in a 14-count federal indictment of conspiring to use the governor's position to enrich themselves.

After he was named chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2011, McDonnell was considered a rising star in the national Republican Party and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney looked at him as a potential running mate.

Ten days after leaving office in January, the McDonnells were indicted. Federal prosecutors accuse them of taking $165,000 in loans and gifts from Jonnie Williams, then chief executive of Star Scientific, and in return helping the CEO promote his product Antabloc.

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If the McDonnells are convicted, the couple could face decades in prison.

Here are the basics to know about the case:

1. How did former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Jonnie Williams meet?

While Bob McDonnell was running for governor in March 2009, his staff asked Williams for use of Williams' private jet. After Bob McDonnell was elected, the McDonnells attended a political event in New York City, meeting privately with Williams at his request.

During the meeting, Maureen McDonnell asked for help finding a designer dress for the inauguration. A senior staffer later told Maureen McDonnell that accepting the gift would be inappropriate.

Ten months later the governor accepted use of Williams' jet to fly to Sacramento, Calif., and Williams accompanied Bob McDonnell on the return flight to Richmond, Va.

2. How much did Williams give to the McDonnells?

The indictment against the McDonnells seeks return of at least $140,805.46 in cash and more than two dozen individual items that prosecutors say violated the law.

Virginia law places no limits on contributions to a political campaign or gifts to a governor. But any gift valued at more than $50 to a governor must be disclosed and if total gifts exceed $100, disclosure also kicks in.

In a political campaign, both individuals and corporations can give, unlike federal election law. Virginia candidates must disclose the names and other information for any donors who give more than $100 during an election cycle.

Williams' company, Star Scientific, is listed as contributing a total of $28,584 on four occasions to Bob McDonnell's gubernatorial campaign in 2009, according to the Virginia Public Access Project's online database. All instances noted as in-kind donations for air travel.

Prosecutors say the governor did not disclose many of his gifts from Williams and that some went to his family for the purpose of skirting disclosure laws.

3. How much is Virginia's governor paid?

In 2010, Bob McDonnell's salary was $175,000, among the top 10 governors' salaries across the USA, according to a Council of State Governments survey.

Though he did not receive a travel allowance, travel expenditures related to his job were reimbursed and he had access to state cars, airplanes and a helicopter while living in the governor's mansion.

4. How did this case come to public attention?

Initially, a chef at the governor's mansion, who worked from April 2010 to March 2012, was accused of stealing food from the home to use in his private catering business.

In September 2013, Todd Schneider pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges. But as authorities investigated his case, he told them about Williams' $15,000 gift that paid for catering at Cailin McDonnell's 2011 wedding.

5. When were former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife charged?

Though an investigation into possible impropriety began while the governor was in office, a federal grand jury did not indict the the couple until Jan. 21, 2014, 10 days after Bob McDonnell ended his four-year term as governor.

Virginia governors can serve only one consecutive four-year term.

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