In the Virginia corruption trial against former Gov. Bob McDonnell, a judge is expected to rule Tuesday on key defense requests.
U.S. District Judge James Spencer heard arguments today in Richmond from attorneys for McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. They are seeking to have most of the corruption charges filed against them dismissed. They also want separate trials.
"If you are the prosecution, it's easier to attack them as a couple than separately," says Geoff Skelley, analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "When you pair it together, it looks like a couple who masterminded some plot for personal gain."
The former governor and his wife are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplement maker Star Scientific Inc. Prosecutors say that in exchange, the McDonnells helped promote his products.
Matthew Mitchell, a senior researcher for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, says the case against McDonnells is evidence that governors should stay out of economic development. "Being able to have, as part of the governor's job description, the promotion of particular businesses invites these kinds of scandals," Mitchell says.
The McDonnells have pleaded not guilty. A jury trial that is expected to last at least five weeks is scheduled to begin in late July.