First lady: 'Here, pay the bills.'
Days before her husband was set to become the 71st governor of Virginia, Maureen McDonnell found out her father had terminal cancer, her husband testified Thursday.
That kicked off an especially tumultuous year for the couple as they struggled with a mix of financial worries and personal grief in 2010, Robert F. McDonnell said Thursday.
McDonnell testified that when his wife’s father died later that year – only about a year after her mother had died — Maureen McDonnell confided in him: “I feel like an orphan.”
“She sobbed for weeks about her dad,” McDonnell said. “It just really, really hurt.”
Then, the troubles were compounded by money worries, McDonnell said. He said his wife received a check for just more than $25,000, and he encouraged her to spend it paying down their “pretty significant” credit card bills. The first lady, he said, preferred to buy stock for their children, something she had long talked about doing.
McDonnell said he fought with his wife, and she eventually left the room in which they were talking and returned with the check. McDonnell said she threw it down, telling him: “Here, pay the bills.”
Which is what they did. It is a decision, however, that the former governor seems to regret.
“That was the wrong decision for my wife and our marriage,” he said. “It was her money.”
The testimony could cut both ways. It might bolster prosecutors’ case that the McDonnells were experiencing such financial turmoil that they turned to Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. for help.
But it also could cast the governor and his wife as sympathetic figures and show that they did not agree on important financial matters – perhaps undercutting the notion that they conspired together to get Williams’s money.