Among other things, the motion seeks records concerning “state goods and resources” taken by McDonnell, his wife, Maureen, and their five children, including: “lodging and resources provided to Jeanine McDonnell during her residence at [gubernatorial retreat] Camp Pendleton, believed to be for several months in early 2012; bottled waters, cups, Gatorade, protein powder and other items taken from the mansion by Sean and Bobby McDonnell for use at their college residences; flats of eggs taken from the mansion by Rachel McDonnell; liquor taken by Rachel McDonnell or her boyfriend, Nick, from the mansion for a private party at Camp Pendleton; pots and pans from the mansion given to Jeanine, Rachel or Cailin McDonnell by Maureen McDonnell.”
Tucker Martin, spokesman for McDonnell (R), declined to discuss the motion, which was filed Monday.
“These motions made by a defendant in a pending criminal proceeding will be addressed by the appropriate authorities in court,” he said via e-mail. “It would not be appropriate for this Office to comment further at this time.”
Steve Benjamin, Schneider’s attorney, declined to comment.
The request itself is not proof of any impropriety by McDonnell or his family. But it seems to preview the defense strategy Schneider will use at the trial scheduled to begin July 15: that the governor’s mansion was operating with few financial controls.
With his questions, Schneider seems to suggest that McDonnell children not living at the mansion — either because they were away at college or grown up and living on their own — raided the state pantry, refrigerator and liquor cabinet.
A claim that the mansion had lax finances could embarrass McDonnell, a fiscal conservative who has prided himself on cutting waste from state government. The suggestion that Jeanine McDonnell lodged at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach for several months in early 2012 could prove awkward because he considered selling the beach cottage at the site early in his tenure to “keep a couple prisons open or something.”
The allegations could be especially damaging for McDonnell coming after revelations that a Virginia businessman picked up the $15,000 catering bill when his daughter Cailin held her wedding reception at the mansion in June 2011.
Schneider’s claims could help the chef, who owned a private catering company while employed at the mansion, argue that he was entitled to whatever food or supplies he is charged with embezzling. Some of his questions suggest that the mansion or the McDonnells failed to pay him for events his company catered, and that he was instructed to pay himself back by “taking it out in trade.”