Prosecutors are trying to portray Janet Vestal Kelly as something of a Bob McDonnell groupie who dropped out of graduate school to work for the Republican.
Kelly, who was secretary of the commonwealth during his administration, agreed with the prosecution’s assessment that the former governor had been “the centerpiece of your career.”
But prosecutor Jessica Aber pointed out that as one of Bob McDonnell’s closest and longest-serving aides, even she was in the dark about $120,000 in loans, a $6,500 Rolex and expensive golf outings bankrolled by Star executive Jonnie Williams. Even so, she acknowledged that she’d referred to Williams as “BFD,” a profane acronym that she cleaned up in court to define as “big freaking deal.”
Kelly did have an early heads-up about one bit of Williams’s largesse. She said she knew that he had paid the $15,000 catering tab at the June 2011 wedding of one McDonnell daughter “in quasi real time.”
Kelly said that the first lady’s former chief of staff, Mary-Shea Sutherland, had told her sometime between June and October of that year that Williams had paid the tab. Sutherland told Kelly that she was not sure whether the governor was aware of the payment, and Sutherland also told Kelly at that time that she owned stock in Star, Kelly testified.
Kelly said she took the matter to the governor’s chief of staff, Martin Kent. Sutherland previously testified that she also had informed Kent of the payment. But Kent, who like Sutherland was a prosecution witness, had testified that Sutherland had not made him aware of it. He did not volunteer if anyone else had informed him.
Aber asked Kelly about testimony she had given on direct examination, when she had said that the staff had some concerns about Williams’s access but decided that there was nothing to worry about because the executive never asked for anything.
Aber noted that Williams had been asking to have state universities to study anatabine, the active ingredient in his dietary supplement Anatabloc. The prosecutor asked Kelly whether she would have been concerned about Williams if she’d known he had, indeed, wanted something.
“I think that would have raised a red flag,” Kelly said.
Aber also asked about Kelly’s testimony from earlier in the day, when she said she had observed Maureen McDonnell and Williams acting in a flirtatious manner on a January 2012 flight on Williams’s jet.
Aber asked Kelly whether she recalled her reaction last year when investigators asked her if she had ever heard any rumors that the first lady and Williams were having an affair.
“I said I wasn’t aware of any rumors,” Kelly said.
“Did you, in fact, laugh?” Aber asked.
Kelly said she did not recall if she had. But she said she did saying this to investigators: “In some ways, I wish I had [heard rumors of an affair] because that would explain everything.”
Defense attorneys have tried to explain the scandal on a “crush” that they claim Maureen McDonnell had on Williams, saying the lonely first lady craved attention from Williams as much as any material gain.
Under cross-examination from Aber, Kelly acknowledged that before Monday, she had never told investigators that the first lady and Williams had interacted in a “flirty” way.