Bob and Maureen McDonnell before their indictment

What I find most puzzling about the corruption charges brought against former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell (R) is how any elected official gets arrested for corruption. I’m not surprised there is corruption, it’s rampant. I’m surprised any top official would be so stupid as to violate the actual law because it is so easy to engage in the many forms of legal bribery.

There is no need to get involved in something so crass and illegal as a quid pro quo secret exchange of money-for-services while still in office. The country already has a well defined system for a large corporation to legally funnel truckloads of cash to politicians who help them out. There is no need for doing something that technically violated our anemic anti-corruption laws.

For example, a company can put the official’s spouse on the board of directors and pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing almost nothing. Or the industry can make clear that any politician who defends their interest while in office will have a high paying job waiting for them the moment they leave office. Even simpler,the company can just pay them tens of thousand for a two hour speaking engagement once out of office.

McDonnell was term-limited as governor after only four years. It is remarkable that he simply couldn’t just wait to cash in legally.

Photo by Eric Brown, used under Creative Commons license