When we left our intrepid candidate, Republican Bob McDonnell, he was in a lot of trouble. The State Board of Elections had asked the Democratic attorney general of Richmond to investigate his mysterious $1M in income, Virginia editorial boards lambasted him in lockstep, and his former campaign manager had been implicated in the DeLay/Abramoff money laundering scandal.
It just got worse.
When first I addressed this story, I closed with some questions:
What was Vanderwall doing working for a small fish like McDonnell? Was McDonnell utterly unaware of the power and influence wielded by the man that he hired to manage his campaign? Or did McDonnell hire Vanderwall precisely because of Vanderwall’s connections? Is it possible that McDonnell was not aware that Vanderwall’s organization was nothing more than a front, used to launder money? Did McDonnell ever benefit from Vanderwall’s connections? Is McDonnell’s money coming to him via the same money-laundering scheme used by Vanderwall and his allies in order to fund other candidates?
I can’t answer these questions. [I]t’ll require smarter people than I to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle.
I’m not smart enough to figure these things out, but the Washington Post‘s James Grimaldi is. From yesterday’s paper comes the following revelations:
- Robin Vanderwall, McDonnell’s former campaign manager, says that the Faith and Family Alliance “was used almost exclusively to secretly fund political efforts” — that is, to launder money.
- McDonnell was one of the people who first set up the Faith and Family Alliance.
- Tim Phillips, who we knew helped to establish the group on behalf of Ralph Reed’s Century Strategies, was helped by a friend, Phil Cox.
- Phillips and Cox are now in business together — they run New Dominion Strategies.
- New Dominion Strategies has been paid $1,460,133 by McDonnell’s campaign. They have received more money from McDonnell’s campaign than any other business or individual, with American Marketing & Publishing coming in at a distant second, with $355,716.
- Phillips and Cox recruited Vanderwall to run the Faith and Family Alliance in June of 2000.
- Keith Polarek was on the board of the Faith and Family Alliance. He is the husband of McDonnell’s current campaign manager, Janet Polarek.
My Lord. McDonnell’s current campaign manager, former campaign manager, and top strategy firm are all very closely tied to an organization established for the sole purpose of laundering money. And McDonnell has nearly $1,000,000 that he cannot explain the origin of.
McDonnell better start talking, and fast.
I will leave open the possibility that he both has amazingly bad luck and terrible taste in his friends and business partners. So his former campaign manager is a pedophile, currently serving seven years in prison — that’s not McDonnell’s fault. And so the guy also ran a money-laundering operation a few months after he stopped working for McDonnell — again, how could McDonnell control that? And so his campaign manager’s husband was on the board of that same money-laundering operation — coincidence. And, yeah, the very heart of his campaign is run by two guys who founded that money-laundering operation but again, these things happen. And so, sure, McDonnell established that money-laundering operation but…uh…maybe he thought it was a…erm…bakery or maybe a synagogue or something.
What an amazing string of bad luck for McDonnell. There is a simpler explanation, of course, but…naaahhh. He’s an honest reformer!
If anybody’s got anything to say in McDonnell’s defense, now would be the time.