RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Former governor Bob McDonnell testified Thursday he and his wife Maureen are no longer living together and said they began living separate lives 20 years ago.
McDonnell said their marriage began to fail as his political career began to take off. When he was just starting out in the General Assembly he "sensed a decided change in our ability to communicate," according to his testimony in the ongoing corruption case.
McDonnell said his election to the office of Attorney General "once again further diminished the time we had." He moved to Richmond right away, while Maureen stayed in Virginia Beach where their kids were still in school.
The former governor said the stress between his political career and his marriage spilled over into how Maureen dealt with the Executive Mansion staff, often screaming about what he said were things as small as the food, or cable TV.
McDonnell said he is now living with his pastor.
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The testimony speaks to the defense's theory, as to how could the couple be conspiring together, if their married life, was a mess.
He testified it was difficult to speak about his marital problems, as he had "always kept close" his finances and his marriage. Both have been laid out for the public throughout the course of the trial.
Financial issues also added strain. The former governor said he asked his wife to be more discreet about her business dealings after she used his campaign lists to promote Nu Skin, a direct sales company.
The couple also disagreed about what to do with $25,000 inheritance from Maureen's father. The former first lady wanted to use the money to buy stock, but Bob McDonnell wanted to use the money to pay mounting bills.
"I was wrong, but I prevailed on the use of the money," testified Bob McDonnell. "That was the wrong decision for my wife and my marriage."
He said Maureen cried and threw the check on the table before telling him, "Here, pay the bills."
He said by the time he took office as governor, Maureen was frequently yelling at the staff.
"I know you're working for free but you've got to take care of your staff," he recalled telling her. After a particularly rocky lunch event at the Executive Mansion he wrote her an email stating this is the "end of the rope for me." Maureen never responded.
Maureen had been speaking with former Star Scientific, Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams the same day. The Henrico businessman, who Maureen testified she had a "crush" on, became spending more time with Maureen.
Bob McDonnell testified he doesn't believe there was ever any physical relationship between his wife and Williams, reinforcing both party's prior testimony.
In fact, McDonnell testified he found Williams "gregarious, funny, and charming" and liked that his wife had a connection with him. Williams later took Maureen on a lavish shopping spree in New York City and gave her the idea to wear an Oscar de la Renta dress he purchased for her to the inauguration.
"I wasn't going to let that happen," the former governor testified, though he admitted he was aware of the shopping trip. He also said the extravagant trip was not the reason Williams was later seated next to him at a fundraiser.