In following the McDonnell's corruption trial for the last week, I have heard all kinds of salacious details about the McDonnell's marriage, Mrs. McDonnell's mental state, and the enormity of their greed. All very titillating, but far from proving corruption.
But the one thing I still can't understand is Jonnie Williams motive. Putting the ethics of bribery aside for a moment did Williams strategy in dealing with the McDonnells make any sense? He says he tried to bribe the Governor to help his business. He is either lying or not a very good businessman. Let me explain. If you own a vitamin business, and had 165,000 dollars to spread around, would you really think the Governor of one state, ignore for the moment that there are 49 other states, but this one Governor can really help you sell more vitamins?
Consider the following. For the most part vitamins and pharmaceuticals are regulated by the Feds, not the state. In fact the state has little role in such an industry. So the Governor could not provide Williams with regulatory relief.
In addition, as far as I know the state isn't handing out million dollar vitamin contracts. So it is not like the Governor can slip into the budget a big purchase of the company's pills.
No, Williams claims that he needed the Governor to direct a university to do a study of his vitamins. A study that would no doubt prove that his vitamins really work. And from there the great publicity would lead to great sales. This strains credulity to its limits, but lets look at that idea.
What would happen if UVA or VCU did a study of Williams product. Could the Governor guarantee positive results? Of course not. And what if the results came back inconclusive, or found no benefit. Would he expect the Governor to quash the results of the study? In effect Williams could have paid 165,000 dollars for a study that said his vitamins are worthless. He had to have considered that possibility.
No, I think Williams had other motives. Perhaps he shared Mrs. McDonnell's crush, and wanted to impress her with gifts. Perhaps he just wanted to hang out with a Governor. But the notion that he thought the Governor could help his business is a real stretch.
My guess is the Feds came to him and said testify against McDonnell, and we will ignore your shady stock deal in another case.