Justice Department Drops Case of Ex-Gov. McDonnell

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Prosecutors will not attempt to retry former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen on corruption charges, ending a four-year saga that the Washington Post says “rocked [Virginia’s] political class and cut short the rise of a Republican star.” The decision is a major victory for the former governor, who has maintained that he did nothing illegal in his relationship with a nutritional supplement salesman. It’s a blow to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eastern Virginia and to advocates for strict enforcement of anti-corruption legislation.

The decision to walk away from the case comes less than a week after it was reported that the U.S. Attorney had recommended to the main Justice Department that the case should be retried. Some legal analysts said dropping the case is appropriate. “The decision not to prosecute vindicates those who believed all along that this case was an inappropriate extension of the bribery and gratuity statute,” said Jacob Frenkel of the firm Dickinson Wright. “Sometimes it takes the Supreme Court to rein in prosecutorial overreaching, and that is exactly what has occurred here.”

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