<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Sat, 20 Sep 2014 20:14:22 -0400 Sat, 20 Sep 2014 20:14:22 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Majority Disapprove of NFL: Poll]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:43:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007913769_1200x675_331236419900.jpg A new NBC News/Marist poll shows that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of how the NFL has been handling recent scandals -- but 85 percent say it hasn't changed the amount of football they watch. However, Barbara is joined by NBC Senior Political Editor Mark Murray to talk football.]]> <![CDATA[Obama Closes Door on Ground Combat in Syria]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:48:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007900890_1200x675_330860611965.jpg President Obama made headlines in Florida during his speech to service members Wednesday, telling them there will be no combat missions in Syria. Mark Murray, NBC News' senior political editor has more. The Senate will vote Thursday on whether to train Syrian rebels.]]> <![CDATA[Excused McDonnell Juror Discussed Case at Bar]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:56:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tlmd_bob_mcdonnell_exgobernador_virgina_declarado_culpable.jpg

The McDonnell juror who could have changed history, Louis DeNitto, Jr., disobeyed the orders of a federal judge and discussed the case openly at a Richmond bar, a block from U.S. district court.

According to sources with intimate knowledge of the court proceedings, DeNitto was staying at the Broad Street Marriott, and discussed the case at the hotel bar.

"He considered the McDonnells innocent and didn't mind saying it," said a juror in an email Tuesday. "Judge Spencer was specific... Lying to the judge or discussing the case would cause severe consequences."

According to McDonnell juror Robin Trujillo, two U.S. marshals entered the jury room 12 days into the corruption trial and escorted DeNitto to Spencer’s chambers.

"The next thing we know, those two marshals come in and asked [DeNitto] to come out," Trujillo said in an interview Wednesday. "And he left, he just disappeared."

After a meeting in Spencer’s chambers with the McDonnells and attorneys from both sides, DeNitto was excused. Gov. Bob McDonnell emerged from the meeting visibly upset.

"We have no further comment on the matter," said Cullen Seltzer, DeNitto's attorney Wednesday. Spencer’s office also declined to issue a comment.

DeNitto declined to reveal the reason why he was dismissed in an interview with the Washington Post, but said the decision to remove him was “completely unethical.”

The McDonnells will be sentenced Jan. 6 in Richmond federal court, and have signaled they plan to appeal after the sentencing.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bowser Leads, But Race Could Be a Tossup: Poll]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:50:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/carol-schwartz-muriel-bowser-david-catania-1200.jpg

Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser has a double-digit lead over her opponents in the first poll on this fall's D.C. mayoral election -- but that doesn't mean the race is a done deal. 

Among likely voters, including those who are still undecided, Bowser leads with 43 percent of the vote, according to an NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll released Wednesday. (The poll has a 4.1-percent margin of error among likely voters.)

Independent David Catania received 26 percent, and another 16 percent of voters say they are planning to vote for independent Carol Schwartz.

However, that balance could change. With nearly seven weeks to go until Election Day, 14 percent of likely voters remain undecided, and a sizable chunk of likely voters admit they don't know enough about the candidates to render an opinion.

Moreover, among those likely voters who have chosen a candidate, slightly less than half strongly support their choice. A little more than one-third "somewhat support" their choice, and 16 percent say they might change their minds by the time they cast their ballots.

"Bowser has the advantage going into Thursday night's debate," said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in a release. "But, when considering voters who are undecided and those who say they may still vote differently, there are enough persuadable voters to make for a lively give-and-take."

Only about half of likely voters who are supporting Bowser and Catania say they are "firmly committed" to their respective choice of candidate.

None of the candidates are struggling with likability; half of likely voters have a favorable view of both Bowser and Schwartz, and 46 percent feel the same about Catania.

However, Bowser has the strongest unfavorability rating; 22 percent of likely voters have a negative view of her. Catania was next, at 19 percent unfavorable. Just 15 percent of likely voters have an unfavorable view of Schwartz.

And roughly a third of poll respondents conceded that they don't know enough about at least one of the candidates to render an opinion either way: 28 percent of likely voters said that about Bowser; 35 percent about Catania, and 36 percent about Schwartz.

That balance could change, however, as voters learn more about the candidates in the coming weeks.

The poll also shows that the candidates' political parties may not have as much of an effect on the race as expected.

Two-thirds of likely voters who are Democrats say they'd consider voting for a non-Democratic candidate -- news that Bowser's independent opponents might be interested to know. The figure includes 38 percent who would very seriously consider doing so. However, another 31 percent would not.

Bowser also scored strongly on some of the issues that likely voters say are most important to them: jobs and the economy, education and temperament. "Her strong suits are people who rate jobs and the economy as their number-one issue," said Miringoff. "...She clearly has that point of identification with voters."

But when it comes to who has the clearest vision for the city and experience, those prove to be more of a tossup.

Bowser and Catania are in a statistical tie among likely voters on those issues, and Schwartz isn’t far behind when it comes to voters’ perception of her experience.

"In a sense, [Bowser] has some work to do in establishing her image, cementing that with voters, beyond just the jobs and economy..." Miringoff said.

In other words, it's not just Catania and Schwartz who have a ways to go before the election, Miringoff said: "They have work in gaining support, and she has work in cementing her image."

"The pursuable votes are there to be had, but they have to make their case to get that," he said.

As for shifting allegiances, Bowser's defeat of Mayor Vincent Gray in the April primary is coming back to help her in another way: 47 percent of Democrats who voted for Gray in the spring are now backing Bowser.

However, Catania has syphoned support from those who voted for third-place primary candidate Tommy Wells back in April. More than half of those voters are now in Catania's camp.

Catania is also leading Bowser by 11 percentage points among likely voters who are white, although Bowser is showing crossover appeal among both white and African-American voters. More than half of black voters, 55 percent, favor Bowser, as do 30 percent of white voters.

Nearly two thirds of likely voters said they don't think it's important to have an African American mayor. Of those voters, 38 percent said it's not important at all.

But more than 30 percent of likely voters do think it's important, and that includes 13 percent who report it's essential.

"The bottom line in all this, is it does put Bowser in the driver's seat, but she certainly doesn't have a lock on this, " Miringoff said.

MORE POLL RESULTS:

About two-thirds of adults said the District is moving in the right direction; another 24 percent think it is on the wrong track. Eight percent are unsure. The results show a slight polarization on the question since it was last asked. When this question was asked in a March poll, 65 percent of residents thought D.C. was on the right path, and 21 percent felt the opposite. At the time, a much higher ratio, 14 percent, was unsure.

Most D.C. residents, 71 percent, say Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier is doing a good job. Another 14 percent disapprove, and 15 percent are unsure.

While D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson didn’t score as will, she still came away with a 52-percent approval rating. The poll shows that another 22 percent of residents disapprove, and a little more than a quarter are unsure.

As for proposed changes to D.C. school boundaries, 55 percent of residents support the proposal. Another 23 percent oppose it, and 22 percent are unsure.

ABOUT THE POLL:

This survey of 1,249 adults was conducted Sept. 14-16 by The Marist Poll sponsored in partnership with NBC4 and The Washington Post. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the District of Columbia were interviewed by telephone using live interviewers.

Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the District from ASDE Survey Sampler, Inc. To increase coverage, this landline sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers from Survey Sampling International. The two samples were then combined and balanced to reflect the 2010 Census results for age, gender income, and race.

Respondents in the household were selected by asking for the youngest male. Results are statistically significant within ±2.8 percentage points. There are 1,070 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±3.0 percentage points. There are 572 likely voters defined by a probability turnout model. This model determines the likelihood respondents will vote in the November 2014 election based upon their chance of vote, interest in the election, and past election participation.



Photo Credit: Andy Jones / Liz Lynch]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: It’s Not Debatable…]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 05:42:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/carol-schwartz-muriel-bowser-david-catania-1200.jpg

Something is going to happen that hasn’t happened all this campaign season on Thursday.

Mayoral candidates Carol Schwartz, David Catania and Muriel Bowser finally — some would say at last — will be on the same stage at the same time taking media and voter questions.

But don’t get used to it.

The candidate conversation Thursday night at the American University’s Katzen Arts Center is just one of four that Democratic nominee Bowser is agreeing to do. As recently as this week, her campaign declined to give any indication she might do more.

That’s bad news for some significant community groups that traditionally run candidates through a wringer of debates.

For example, the age-old Federation of Civic Associations and the Federation of Citizens Associations together represent about 75 neighborhood organizations. For more than four months they’ve been planning a forum for Oct. 21 at Eastern High School.

Catania said yes. Schwartz said yes. Bowser’s campaign hasn’t said anything.

One organizer, who said she’s tried to get a Bowser campaign commitment, sourly recalled a recent campaign event: “She has time to clean hotel bathrooms, but she doesn’t have time for us?”

In Southwest, community leaders like Andy Litsky are hosting a Southwest/Southeast mayoral debate Oct. 9 at Arena Stage. Participating groups include Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D, the longtime Southwest Neighborhood Assembly and the Navy Yard Neighborhood Association.

Schwartz said yes. Catania said yes. Bowser?

As of Monday, Bowser “has not even acknowledged the invitation,” Litsky said in an email to us. “We will have a chair on the stage with her name on it if she deigns to show up.”

The Catania and Schwartz campaigns said they also have invites from the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, anchor Bruce Johnson at WUSA-TV Channel 9, the Washington City Paper, the local AARP chapter and others.

Joaquin McPeek, Bowser’s press person, said Bowser stands by her Sept. 12 announcement on forums. In addition to American University on Thursday, Bowser has accepted the Oct. 2 debate being hosted by WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi at National Public Radio on North Capitol Street.

Bowser also agreed to the NBC4/Washington Post forum to be held Oct. 15 (and broadcast later by NBC4) and the Oct. 16 Ward 8 Collaborative Forum sponsored by 35 community groups.

Nearly every candidate for public office – especially for mayor — has groused at least a little bit about the wearying, dizzying pace of multiple forums, Bowser included. The marathon of events to win the April 1 Democratic Primary wasn’t that long ago. She’s now doing small-scale events every day, and her campaign says she’s meeting voters one-on-one all the time. Attending the forums is not seen as a necessarily efficient use of her time.

Her critics say Bowser isn’t good in debates and is making a campaign gamble that voters won’t care enough about her absences to affect the outcome.

Schwartz is making her fifth run for mayor and is a veteran of citywide council races.

“I think that [Bowser’s decision] is very worrisome,” she told NBC4 on Monday. “I think voters want to see debates, see us in person, and they want to ask us questions.”

Catania, who released a 126-page platform of ideas and issues on Monday, said voters need more from unsheltered candidates.

“There’s simply no way that voters are going to be able to come away after four debates with an understanding of what me and my opponents would like to do as mayor,” Catania said.

■ Statehood fantasy. If you’re tired of fantasy football, you can start a new game of fantasy statehood.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., held a well-attended hearing on D.C. statehood Monday. Well, it was well-attended by citizens. Not many senators show up on Mondays or Fridays on Capitol Hill. And certainly not for D.C. statehood.

Carper gave an impassioned opening statement in favor of full American citizenship for D.C. residents.

“My goal for this hearing is to educate a new generation of people about this injustice and restart the conversation about finding a thoughtful solution,” he said. “We have tolerated this situation for a long time.”

But just to be clear, there is no plan to bring the statehood issue to a vote in committee or, even less likely, on the Senate floor. And after November’s elections, the Democrats may lose control of the Senate to Republicans.

Fantasy football, anyone?

■ Food for thought. The DC Central Kitchen, which does hard-core work to help feed the neediest among us, is holding a fundraiser Thursday. It’s at 6 p.m. at the Liaison Capitol Hill Rooftop Pool & Bar, 415 New Jersey Ave. NW.

Participants will be celebrating a new book, “The Food Fighters: DC Central Kitchen’s First 25 Years on the Front Lines of Hunger and Poverty.”

The heartfelt story is told by Alexander Justice Moore, the kitchen’s chief development officer. It tells the story of Robert Egger, “the cocky nightclub manager” who opened the kitchen and changed the face of poverty assistance in Washington. It’s a good read to pick up even if you can’t make the party.


Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.
 



Photo Credit: Andy Jones / Liz Lynch]]>
<![CDATA[Obama: Ebola an Issue of National Security]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:10:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-09-16_1708_001.png President Obama plans to send 3,000 military personnel to create Ebola treatment centers in Liberia. In an interview on "Meet the Press," Obama said that Ebola is not only an issue of health care, but also a national security problem.]]> <![CDATA[Chuck Todd: ISIS Fight Being Called a "War"]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 22:09:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007838782_1200x675_328752195713.jpg A day after John Kerry refused to use the word, both the White House and the Pentagon are now saying the U.S. is indeed at "war" with ISIS. "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd joins News4 to discuss the significance of the change.]]> <![CDATA[Gray Weighs In On Rudd Case, Speed Cams, Driver's Plea]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 22:07:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007838966_1200x675_328728131549.jpg News 4's Mark Segraves has an exclusive interview with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray about two key reports released while he was in China.]]> <![CDATA[Obama Asks for International Help Against ISIS]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:42:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/211*120/2014-09-12_1340.jpg NBC News political writer Carrie Dann reports that President Obama is now seeking international support against terrorist group ISIS, after successfully managing to get the majority of Americans and Congress on board. Dann also talks about Hillary Clinton's plans to reach back out to Iowa Democrats in order to secure their votes.]]> <![CDATA[Firefighter's Union Endorses Muriel Bowser]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:55:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/muriel+bowser+iaff36.jpg

D.C.'s firefighter's union has decided to endorse the Democratic nominee for mayor.

The International Association of Firefighters, Local 36 (IAFF Local 36) announced their endorsement of Muriel Bowser Wednesday morning.

"Our team of dedicated Local 36 members grilled the potential candidates on many of the issues that face out local every day," 2nd Vice President Daney Hudson said. "One candidate stood above the rest as an advocate for all the things necessary to move our department in the right direction."

Bowser has pledged to make sure the department is "fully equipped and trained."

Most unions in the District have been siding with Bowser -- most recently, she got the support of the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO, which represents about 175 local unions in the region.

But one union is backing her opponent and fellow councilmember David Cantania.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which represents about 3,500 officers, announced their endorsement of Catania last month.

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<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: An Ending and a Beginning…]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:08:55 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/vincentgrayclose1.jpg

We may be at the beginning of the end of the shadow campaign scandal.

And — we can hope — we’re at the end of the beginning for the current campaign for mayor.

First, Mayor Vincent Gray returns Friday from China to face the media after disturbing news that his 2010 campaign driver has pleaded guilty in that long-running shadow campaign scandal.

Mark Long, the mayor's campaign director of advance operations and personal driver, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy for collecting and concealing illegal campaign contributions.

Long is not just another guilty plea (there already had been five). He may prove to be the linchpin that brings prosecutors closer to Mayor Gray and what he did or didn’t do during that sullied campaign.

Long acknowledged driving Gray to secret meetings with shadow campaign financier Jeffrey Thompson, handling phone calls from Thompson to Gray, and collecting secret cash from Thompson to give to Gray. In short, Long corroborates the time and place in which prosecutors say Thompson and Gray participated knowingly in the shadow campaign.

Thompson pleaded guilty in court this spring and Gray went out of his way to call Thompson a "liar."

Will Gray now say that one of his most trusted campaign aides is a liar, too?

Gray never has commented publicly on two other close associates and longtime pals, Jeanne Clark Harris and Vernon Hawkins. They both pleaded guilty to their roles in the shadow campaign.

Are Hawkins and Harris liars, too?

Back when he was still running for re-election, we casually talked with Mayor Gray about his situation. We both acknowledged that overall, he had a more than competent record as mayor.
But as we pointed out then, Gray is something like a track star. He was running a good race and running the city as best he could. However, he may have cheated at the start line with his campaign. And stuff like that gets you DQ'd (disqualified).

Some who support or even feel sorry for the mayor hope he can limp to the finish line of Jan. 2, 2015, when the new mayor takes over. They may see Gray riding off into the sunset, never charged.

But it may be just a dream.

"The 2010 mayoral campaign was rife with corruption," said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen. "Our work continues."

■ Ready, set, go. This week is important for another reason besides Mayor Gray’s return to face more scandal. The D.C. Board of Elections passed its deadline this week to disqualify any candidates for mayor. And on Friday, the board will pick the order in which the candidates will appear on the ballot.

At that point, mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser no longer will have an excuse to publicly ignore her opponents or act, as some say, like she’s already been elected mayor.

Since her Democratic primary win last April 1, Bowser for more than five months has refused to engage opponents for November. That’s even though independent David Catania and Carol Schwartz each turned in enough petition signatures to easily quality for the ballot. Bowser has hung on to a self-imposed technicality that those candidates weren't "official" until the board certification that comes Friday.

Several groups that wanted to have candidates forums this summer were told "no" or discouraged from even trying to plan something. Bowser also has indicated she doesn’t expect to run a gauntlet of endless, small neighborhood candidate forums, believing she was vetted heavily in the primary.

Bowser, Catania and Schwartz at this point have agreed to participate in a "candidate conversation" on the American University campus Sept. 18. And they've agreed to participate in Kojo Nnamdi’s WAMU event Oct. 2. That forum will be held at the new NPR headquarters on North Capitol Street.

We’ll watch for other opportunities for you to see or hear the candidates. Assuming there are some.

■ A final word. Jerry Phillips is finally out of the street. The 75-year-old veteran journalist died Aug. 29. He was honored at a funeral Saturday in Northeast Washington at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, one of his favorite places on Earth.

Phillips was a 20-year presence on NBC4's Sunday morning "Reporters' Notebook" program. He often sought to express public opinion by referring to "people in the street" who thought this or that.

Well, those "people in the street" have lost a true friend.


Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.
 



Photo Credit: File Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Obama's Strategy Against ISIS]]> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 13:31:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-09-08_1329.jpg President Obama will talk to congressional leaders about ISIS on Tuesday. NBC's Carrie Dann discusses Obama's strategy to fight ISIS, as well as the big issues facing Congress this fall.]]> <![CDATA[Meet Chuck Todd of "Meet the Press"]]> Sat, 06 Sep 2014 09:22:40 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/090714_LSP_Chuck_Todd_1200x675_325741123764.jpg

Chuck Todd makes his debut as moderator of "Meet the Press" on Sunday, and has landed President Barack Obama as his first guest. On Friday, Todd took to Reddit to introduce himself.

The Miami native, who attended George Washington University, was previously NBC’s chief White House correspondent and political director. Despite his years in Washington, the sports lover remains committed to teams outside D.C.; he has been a fan of the Miami Hurricanes and the Green Bay Packers since birth.

Here, from his Reddit “Ask Me Anything,” are five things we learned about the famed political junkie.

When will he shave his facial hair?

Don’t hold your breath — even if, as suggested, it would improve his ratings. When he looks in the mirror, he sees his late father, he says. Shaving his beard would be like getting rid of that piece of his father that he carries with him

Who is one person, now dead, that he would have loved to have interviewed?

Richard Nixon, because it would have been a challenge

How does he see his role as a reporter and moderator?

His job is to push back against bloviation and talking points by being grounded in facts, and to get to the nut of the debate.

How does he feel about his name?

He hates having two one syllable names, and has given both of his children multiple-syllable first names. “I’ve been ‘ChuckTodd’ with every coach and teacher during my childhood,” he wrote on Reddit.

Does he ever get nervous interviewing high profile guests?

He's always a tad nervous. "Any moment can be a career ender," he wrote.

What did he think about the University of Louisville’s football win over Miami on Monday?

His late father-in-law was a star quarterback at Louisville, so criticism of Louisville is off-limits in his house. He’s not upset about Louisville, he says, but about the University of Miami being unprepared.
“It’s time for the ‘State of Miami’ to return, meaning that the best players in the best high school football factories in the country go to Miami,” he wrote.

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<![CDATA[Ex.-Gov. Sobs as McDonnells Found Guilty]]> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 18:16:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/mcdonnell-guilty-AP977255973421.jpg

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife have been found guilty of most of the public corruption charges they faced in a marathon trial centered on lavish gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman.

The former governor has been found guilty of 11 of the 13 charges against him. Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell has been found guilty of nine of the 13 charges against her.

It was a bombshell ending to a trial that included the dissection of the former first couple's marriage, testimony that Bob had moved out and was living with a priest, and testimony that Maureen had begun frequently texting and emailing the businessman in the case, Jonnie Williams, who wanted help promoting his dietary supplement.

Three of the McDonnells' five children clutched each others' hands and prayed before the verdict was announced, breaking into sobs as their parents' guilty counts were read aloud.

The couple's son Bobby McDonnell looked at his father with tear-glazed eyes as the former governor's head collapsed into his hands.

Bob McDonnell is "broken" and "devastated," said defense attorney Henry Asbill, who added that he would appeal the verdict.

The government had accused the McDonnells of doing special favors for Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplement maker Star Scientific, Inc., in exchange for more than $177,000 in gifts and loans.

Courtroom observers said two jurors wiped their eyes as the verdicts were read.

As co-defendants, the former first couple was separated in the courtroom, with three lawyers sitting between them. Maureen McDonnell teared up, but appeared composed compared to the emotional reactions of her husband and children.

The McDonnells didn't look at each other as the verdict was read. They left the Richmond courthouse together but got into separate cars. It was a marked difference from the rest of the trial, which verged into soap opera territory as defense lawyers suggested that the McDonnells' marriage was so broken they could not have conspired to obtain gifts, trips and loans from Williams.

Throughout the trial, Bob McDonnell had appeared confident, telling reporters repeatedly that he was sure he would be exonerated and was putting his faith in God.

"All I can say is my trust remains in the Lord," he said in a brief statement as he left the courthouse Thursday with Maureen, before they got into separate cars.

McDonnell, who was once considered a rising GOP star and potential vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney in 2012, now faces, along with his wife, up to 30 years in federal prison when they're sentenced in January.

"This is a difficult and disappointing day for the Commonwealth and its citizens," said Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. "Public service frequently requires sacrifice, and almost always requires financial sacrifice. When public officials turn to financial gain in exchange for official acts, we have no choice but to prosecute the case."

Bob McDonnell is the first former governor of Virginia to be convicted of a crime. The commonwealth had long had a reputation for clean politics, a reputation shattered in the five-week McDonnell trial.

Political analyst Bob Holsworth called it "a day of infamy in Virginia."

The Verdict, Count by Count

Bob and Maureen McDonnell were each charged with 13 counts in a 14-count indictment:

  • In the first count against them, the McDonnells were found guilty of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud for accepting gifts and loans from Williams.

  • The next three charges, counts 2-4, involved accepting checks from Williams: On counts 2 and 3, the McDonnells were both found guilty of honest-services wire fraud for accepting a $15,000 check to pay a caterer for their daughter's wedding, and for accepting a $50,000 loan check for MoBo Real Estate, a company the former governor operated with his sister.

  • On count 4, Bob McDonnell was also found guilty of a count of honest-services wire fraud for a $20,000 wire transfer for MoBo. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty on that charge.

  • On count 5, the McDonnells were found guilty of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right for the gifts and loans they received.

  • The McDonnells also faced six charges of obtaining property under color of official right, counts 6-11: On counts 6-8, they were found guilty of three charges of obtaining property under color of official right for a $50,000 check to Maureen, for the $15,000 check to the wedding caterer, and for a $2,380 golf outing.

  • On count 9, Bob McDonnell was found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for a $1,424 golf outing. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty of that charge.

  • On count 10, both McDonnells were found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for the $50,000 check to MoBo.

  • On count 11, Bob McDonnell was found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for the $20,000 transfer to MoBo. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty of that charge.

  • Only Bob McDonnell was charged with count 12. He was found not guilty of making false statements on a TowneBank loan application.

  • In count 13, both McDonnells were found not guilty of making false statements on a PenFed loan application.

  • Only Maureen McDonnell was charged with count 14. She was found guilty of obstruction of official proceeding for a handwritten note to Williams.

They will be sentenced Jan. 6, 2015.

Inside the Testimony

The trial centered on the testimony of the former governor and Williams, the prosecution's star witness. Maureen McDonnell did not take the stand.

Williams was granted immunity for his dealings with the McDonnells and possible securities fraud violations, which had been investigated by a separate grand jury. He testified that he spent lavishly on the McDonnells to secure their help promoting and obtaining state-backed research for Star Scientific's tobacco-derived anti-inflammatory supplement, Anatabloc. Williams intended to share the results of that research with doctors to gain their support of the product.

Prosecutors claimed the former first couple had an "unconscionable amount" of credit card debt and presented testimony that they were eager to accept gifts from Williams, including a $6,500 Rolex watch that Maureen gave Bob for Christmas, a vacation at Williams’ luxurious home on Smith Mountain Lake outside Roanoke, use of Williams' Ferrari and a shopping spree for designer clothes and accessories for Maureen.

Testimony showed Williams loaned $50,000 to Maureen McDonnell that she used to pay down credit debt in 2011. He also loaned $50,000 and $20,000 to MoBo Real Estate, a small company that Bob McDonnell and one of his sisters ran to operate two beach properties.

Prosecutors also said Williams paid $15,000 in catering expenses when one of the McDonnells' daughters got married. And they claimed Maureen had developed a close relationship with Williams, exchanging more than 1,200 texts and calls over a nearly two-year period, including 52 in one day.

In his defense, Bob McDonnell testified he did nothing more than extend routine political courtesies to Williams. Before the indictment, he had apologized for what he described as bad judgment and said he had repaid about $120,000 in gifts and loans, but denied breaking any laws.

A key part of the defense strategy was the claim that the McDonnells couldn't have conspired, because their marriage had deteriorated to the point that Bob McDonnell had moved out and was now living with a priest, who is a family friend. Maureen McDonnell's lawyers called Williams her "favorite playmate."

Both the prosecution and the defense called Maureen volatile and emotional. One prosecution witness called her a "nut bag." Bob McDonnell himself said his wife didn't take well to the role of first lady, calling her handling of behind-the-scenes matters "a disaster." Testimony revealed staff members at the governor's mansion had threatened to resign en masse.

Judge: 'Can't Take Another Second'

After lengthy days of intense testimony -- on day four, the judge in the case said he was stopping testimony because he "can't take another second" -- the jury faced the task of deciding the McDonnells' guilt or innocence.

Judge James R. Spencer issued lengthy instructions to the jury Tuesday morning, including the warning that the testimony of a witness who is granted immunity must be more closely examined than testimony of other witnesses.

The heightened scrutiny was required to determine whether the testimony of the immunized witness is "affected by self-interest," Spencer said.

To be found guilty, Spencer said, a defendant must understand the nature of the conspiracy and deliberately join it.

However, Spencer said a conspiracy does not have to achieve its goals, which could have undercut a defense claim that Williams never received anything of substance, including the research he took preliminary steps to seek.

He also said an agreement need not be stated explicitly by the conspirators and that it didn't matter whether the defendant would have done those favors absent a bribe.

Spencer also told jurors -- who heard from three character witnesses, two for Bob McDonnell and one for his wife -- that "evidence of good character alone may create a reasonable doubt as to a defendant's guilt."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[D.C. Mayors' Race: What You Need to Know]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 11:50:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/224*120/wilson_04.jpg

Playing catch-up when it comes to this fall's D.C. election? We've compiled everything you need to know about where to vote, how to register, who's running, and what else is on the ballot.

Can I vote early?

Yes, if you're registered to vote, you can cast your ballot at selected locations between Oct. 20 and Nov. 1, except Sundays, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. 

However, your regular polling place may not offer early voting, so find all early voting sites here. Early voting begins Oct. 20 at just one site: One Judiciary Square (441 4th St. NW).

On Saturday, Oct. 25, eight more early voting sites will open across D.C. and will be open daily through Nov. 1 (except on Sundays).

How can I register to vote?

There are three ways to register:

1. At a voter registration agency, such as: the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, the D.C. Office on Aging, the Department of Parks and Recreation, or the Department of Human Services. If you're registering at any of these agencies, applications are due 30 days before Election Day.

2. By mail. In this case, you would also need to complete and mail the application form at least 30 days before Election Day. You can find the online registration form here. The mailing address is listed below:

D.C. Board of Elections
One Judiciary Square
441 4th St. NW, Suite 250 North
Washington, DC, 20001

3. In person at the D.C. Board of Elections office. There is no registration deadline when you submit an application at the board's office -- but that if you are casting a regular ballot in an election, you must register before early voting begins for that election, which is about 15 days prior.

Is there a cut-off date to register to vote?

You may register to vote at your precinct's polling place on Election Day. If you are registering at any of the agencies listed above, or via mail, applications must be submitted 30 days before Election Day.

Who is running for mayor?

Councilmember Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) emerged as the winner of the Democratic primary election in April against Mayor Vincent Gray, whose campaign was marred by a fundraising scandal, and a handful of other candidates.

Councilmember David A. Catania (I-At Large) is considered among the leading candidates for mayor. Should he win, he would be the first white mayor and the first openly gay mayor in D.C. history. A former Republican, Catania left the party in 2004. He says he has a record of "delivering on issues that people care about."

Carol Schwartz, a former four-term at-large D.C. councilmember, is running as an independent. She has made four unsuccessful attempts for mayor; her last bid was in 2002, in which she ran as a Republican. She touts a lengthy record and an education plan that would call on a network of retired educators to volunteer as tutors and mentors.

Nestor Djonkam, an independent candidate, has participated in various political campaigns and currently serves as chair of Cameroonian American Outreach, a nonprofit organization in D.C., as well as the chair of the Nestor for Hope Program, which serves the less fortunate in D.C., according to his mayoral website.

Bruce Majors, an openly gay Libertarian Party candidate, ran against Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton in an attempt to take her seat in 2012. He accrued less than six percent of the vote; however, his ballots were enough to qualify the Libertarians as a major party.

Faith, who goes by one name, is a D.C. Statehood Green Party candidate. This is the 90-year-old’s ninth mayoral bid over the span of three decades. "We've become the international business brothel of the world," she said when asked by the Washington Post why she keeps running. "I feel that Washington makes Vegas look like the Vatican."

What else will be on the ballot?

Voters will also choose:



Photo Credit: Andy Jones]]>
<![CDATA[2016 Presidential Contenders Flock to NH]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 12:26:49 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/rand-paul.jpg

It's still two months from the 2014 mid-term elections, and already numerous potential 2016 presidential candidates are flocking to New Hampshire.

Politico reported on Wednesday that GOP Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will speak at a Generation Opportunity event on Sept. 11 and the NHGOP Unity Breakfast on Sept. 12. Both events will be held in Manchester.

This weekend brings two more Republican presidential hopefuls to the Granite State. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to make appearances in Dover and Stratham on Saturday, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be in Concord, Manchester and Nashua on Sunday.

It was also announced last week that Donald Trump will travel to New Hampshire on Nov. 12 to speak at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communication's 12th annual First Amendment Awards.

Paul, Jindal, Cruz and Trump have all made previous trips to New Hampshire this year.

Vice President Joe Biden, a possible 2016 contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, was scheduled to speak at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Wednesday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: More Scandal…and the ’Skins]]> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 10:34:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Tom+Lindenfeld.jpg

Summer’s over.

Here are a couple of Labor Day weekend matters that disrupted our relaxation.

■ Scandal. With more than a few years in the journalism business, you’d think political surprises would tend to become ho-hum.

They don’t.

More than a few journalists and assorted others are SMH (“shaking my head”) at the ugly turn of events for master political consultant Tom Lindenfeld.

Democratic mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser abruptly and publicly dumped her veteran adviser last week as soon as Lindenfeld’s name publicly surfaced in a federal criminal investigation into the 2007 Philadelphia mayor’s race.

Pennsylvania prosecutors are tracing allegations that a $1 million loan was funneled through Lindenfeld’s consulting business to aid the ultimately failed mayoral campaign of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, who finished fourth in the city’s Democratic primary.

“I’m quite surprised by the allegations out of Philadelphia today,” Bowser said in a statement just hours after the Washington City Paper’s Will Sommer broke the news. “I have the highest expectations of transparency from my campaign team; Tom no longer has a role on the campaign.”
Lindenfeld, who has a movie-ready personality and a career resume of local and national campaigns including for a man named Barack Obama, has been golden in D.C.

Lindenfeld guided the 1998 campaign for Tony Williams. He did the same for Adrian Fenty in 2006 and tried again in 2010 but we know how that turned out. He was expecting to get back in the winner’s circle with Bowser in 2014.

In 2007, while he also was working that Philly mayor’s race, Lindenfeld had guided Bowser’s winning first run for the Ward 4 D.C. Council seat as Fenty’s designated successor. And Lindenfeld was deep into voter identification and turnout efforts for the current Bowser campaign. In midsummer, the gruff and quotable consultant faded from the campaign without public comment.

And now he is out.

Contacted over the weekend by NBC4, Lindenfeld declined comment — something so unusual. So again, we’re SMH.

■ ’Skins back to RFK? The owner of the Washington region’s storied NFL football team has created the chance for the biggest sport “jump ball” in recent history. (And yes, we’re purposely mixing a basketball phrase in here.)

The “jump ball” is Dan Snyder’s public declaration on Comcast SportsNet that he is considering building a new domed stadium in either the District or the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Let the competition begin. In other words, FedEx Field is toast. Snyder has never liked it or its location.

Most observers believe the District’s underused RFK site is Snyder’s favored location for a 65,000- to 75,000-seat stadium. The era of megawatt seating is over. There’d be standing room for maybe another 15,000 or so fans.

Every D.C. mayor since Williams has said they’d bring the team back to the city under the right circumstances. Translated, that means the team would have to pay for the stadium construction; no more city gifts like the Nats stadium for the Lerners. The city would still spend millions on site preparation.

There are two big obstacles beyond the issue of financing.

The people who live in the neighborhoods flanking the stadium want to be included in the area’s redevelopment. They want neighborhood retail, shopping and plenty of park space, not parking lots. The Capitol East families and other neighborhoods want to benefit from any development, not suffer from it.

Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans, one of the city’s most unabashed supporters of getting the team back in town, says all of the needs and wants of the neighborhoods can coexist with having the ’Skins back. But the neighborhoods might as well be called Missouri — you’re going to have to show them.

And last, but nowhere least, is the team name. The city leaders are on the record: They want the name changed or it’s a deal-breaker. Politically, it would be hard, if not impossible, to get the city to buy into the controversy surrounding the name.

We’ll end on an upbeat note. The team owner has said publicly he will “never” change the name.

He may be disliked by many people for many reasons, but Snyder is a smart businessman.

“Never” may be more negotiable than many of us think.


Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.
 

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<![CDATA[Obama's Foreign Policy in the Spotlight]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:07:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007712594_1200x675_324411971586.jpg With President Obama's trip to Estonia this week, his foreign policy is in the spotlight. He's facing two big challenges: Russian forces in Ukraine and the fight against ISIS. NBC News Senior Political Editor Mark Murray has more on some of the criticism facing the president in the action he has taken so far.]]> <![CDATA[Eric Cantor Starts New Job on Wall Street ]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 09:21:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/450452130.jpg

Former Congressman Eric Cantor is starting a new job on Wall Street.

Cantor will join the Moelis and Company investment bank as vice chairman and managing director.

"In his new role, Mr. Cantor will provide strategic counsel to the Firm’s corporate and institutional clients on key issues. He will play a leading role in client development and advise clients on strategic matters," the company said in a press released issued Tuesday.

Cantor will also sit on the company's Board of Directors.

Cantor stepped down as House Majority Leader and resigned his seat in the House of Representatives last month, telling The Richmond Times-Dispatch that he wanted to make sure his constituents had a voice during the "consequential" lame-duck session.

Cantor lost to Dave Brat, an underfunded, Tea Party-backed opponent, in his Republican primary in June.

Cantor, 51, was a seven-term House veteran who before his defeat had been seen as a potential rival -- and likely successor -- to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Though he had a conservative voting record, he was distrusted by some tea party supporters who suspected he might be too eager to reach compromise on immigration legislation.



Photo Credit: WireImage]]>