Witness: McDonnell struggled to rein in his wife

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Witness: McDonnell struggled to rein in his wife
Former Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell was sentenced to one year and one day in prison during a sentencing hearing Friday afternoon.
RICHMOND, VA - AUGUST 18: Maureen McDonnell walks to her corruption trial at U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, August 18, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. McDonnell and her husband Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell are on trial for accepting gifts, vacations and loans from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his company. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - JANUARY 24: Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (2ndR) and his wife, Maureen (2nd-L) leave the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, on January 24, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. McDonnell and his wife Maureen pleaded not guilty to a 14 count criminal indictment from federal grand jury charging that the couple violated federal corruption laws by using their positions to benefit a wealthy businessman who gave them gifts and loans. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - JANUARY 24: Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen leave the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, on January 24, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. McDonnell and his wife Maureen pleaded not guilty to a 14 count criminal indictment from federal grand jury charging that the couple violated federal corruption laws by using their positions to benefit a wealthy businessman who gave them gifts and loans. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - AUGUST 29: Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell (C) leaves her trial at U.S. District Court house August 29, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. McDonnell and her husband, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, are on trial for accepting gifts, vacations and loans from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his company, Star Scientific (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 3:
Maureen McDonell arrives separately from her husband as jury deliberations in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen, on September, 03, 2014 in Richmond, VA.
(Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who was once on the short list of potential Republican vice presidential nominees, was sentenced to two years in prison by a federal judge in Alexandria on Tuesday.
RICHMOND, VA - AUGUST 29: Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell leaves his trial at U.S. District Court, August 29, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. McDonnell and his wife Maureen are on trial for accepting gifts, vacations and loans from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his company, Star Scientific. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA JULY 31: Witness Jonnie R. Williams Sr. departs the Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr., Federal Courthouse following a day of testimony in a federal corruption charge against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, in Richmond, Virginia, on Thursday, July 31, 2014. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 3:
Former Governor Bob McDonnell departs the courthouse after a second day of jury deliberations in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen, on September, 03, 2014 in Richmond, VA.
(Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - AUGUST 09: U.S. Army Sgt. Wesley Watkins of Union Bridge, Maryland, reads from Jill Biden's 'Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops' as Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (C) and his wife Maureen McDonnell visit the KinderCare Learning Center August 9, 2012 in Alexandria, Virginia. A 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Gov. McDonnell's visit to the center is part of KinderCare's Honoring the Troops program taking place at the end of August in Virginia and Maryland. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - AUGUST 09: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (C) and his wife Maureen McDonnell (3rd R) say hello to a young student while visiting the KinderCare Learning Center August 9, 2012 in Alexandria, Virginia. A 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Gov. McDonnell's visit to the center is part of KinderCare's Honoring the Troops program taking place at the end of August in Virginia and Maryland. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
In this courtroom sketch at the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell, center, and his wife, former first lady Maureen McDonnell, second from right, Judge James R. Spencer, left, presides during jury selection Monday, July 28, 2014, in Richmond, Va. Bob and Maureen McDonnell are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from the CEO of a dietary supplements company in exchange for helping promote his products. The defense team is gathered at a courtroom table and includes Victoria Taraktchian, John L. Brownlee, Robert McDonnell, Henry W. "Hank" Asbill, Marjorie Fargo, Maureen McDonnell, and William "Bill" Burck at left. Foreground figure, third from right, is Stephen Hauss. (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)
RICHMOND, VA - AUGUST 28: Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (C) leaves his trial at U.S. District Court with his son Bobby (R) August 28, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. McDonnell and his wife Maureen are on trial for accepting gifts, vacations and loans from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his company, Star Scientific. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - AUGUST 18: Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell walks to his corruption trial at U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, August 18, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. McDonnell and his wife Maureen are on trial for accepting gifts, vacations and loans from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his company. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - AUGUST 18: Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell walks to his corruption trial at U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, August 18, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. McDonnell and his wife Maureen are on trial for accepting gifts, vacations and loans from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his company. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - AUGUST 18: Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell walks to his corruption trial at U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, August 18, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. McDonnell and his wife Maureen are on trial for accepting gifts, vacations and loans from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his company. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, center, arrives at federal court with his attorneys, John Brownlee, left, and Henry Asbill, right, in Richmond, Va., Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. McDonnell presents his defense in his corruption trial today. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell , right, is swarmed by the media as he arrives at federal court in Richmond, Va., Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. McDonnell presents his defense today. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell, center, is flanked by daughters Rachel McDonnell, left, and Cailin Young, right, as they arrive at the federal courthouse in Richmond, Va,, Monday, July 28, 2014, on the first day of jury selection in the corruption trial of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife in Richmond, Va. Bob and Maureen McDonnell are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from the CEO of a dietary supplements company in exchange for helping promote his products. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, left, is escorted out of Federal court by a security officer after a motions hearing in Richmond, Va., Monday, May 19, 2014. The Republican former governor and his wife are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc., in exchange for helping promote his products. They have pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
RICHMOND, VA. - JANUARY 16: Virginia Governor-Elect Bob McDonnell with his wife Maureen, pause during the Pledge of Allegiance prior to being sworn in as the new governor of Virginia at the state capitol building in Richmond, Va. on January 16, 2010. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who was once on the short list of potential Republican vice presidential nominees, was sentenced to two years in prison by a federal judge in Alexandria on Tuesday.
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By MATTHEW BARAKAT and LARRY O'DELL

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Former Gov. Bob McDonnell struggled to rein in his wife's erratic behavior, causing turmoil throughout the executive staff and nearly prompting a mass resignation among workers in the governor's mansion, a defense witness testified Monday.

After prosecutors presented nearly three weeks of testimony in the public corruption trial of McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, lawyers for Bob McDonnell opened their defense with even more testimony that portrayed Maureen McDonnell badly, saying she lashed out when she didn't get her way.

Prosecutors say the McDonnells accepted more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's dietary supplements. The couple is charged in a 14-count indictment.

The tight relationship between Maureen McDonnell and Williams has been a key issue at trial, with the former governor's lawyers suggesting that she acted largely on her own to promote Williams' tobacco-based supplement, Anatabloc.

Janet Kelly, who served as secretary of the commonwealth under McDonnell, said she was personally fond of Maureen McDonnell and was reluctant to bash her any further.

"I don't want to just pile on," she said, fighting back tears.

But Kelly said she had known about Maureen's "challenging behavior" for years and that she took the job as secretary of the commonwealth only after receiving assurances she wouldn't have to deal with Maureen.

She eventually agreed to have contact with her, she testified, when she learned that Maureen McDonnell was yelling at her husband nightly about the sorts of issues that Kelly had been ducking.

Kelly and other staffers intervened to thwart a mass resignation of the mansion staff, in which they wrote a joint letter stating that "to be treated like naughty children any time something doesn't suit you is completely unacceptable."

Kelly said the letter would be counterproductive because Maureen McDonnell was "pathologically incapable of accepting any responsibility."

And Kelly said Maureen McDonnell reacted badly when her husband told her at the outset of the administration that she would have to suspend her business selling vitamins and other supplements.

On the other hand, Kelly described the former governor as "extraordinarily gracious" and even-tempered.

"There was never a time he made me feel uncomfortable. Never a time I questioned his motives," she said.

Kelly testified that while the relationship between the McDonnells appeared to be strained, she said she observed Maureen McDonnell and Williams acting "kind of flirty" on a plane trip in 2012.

Defense attorneys have said the marriage was on the rocks and that Maureen had developed a crush on Williams, suggesting that the McDonnells could not have engaged in a criminal conspiracy because they were barely speaking.

Kelly, who played a key role in handing out jobs and appointments, testified that she was never asked to give any appointments or jobs to Williams or executives from his company. McDonnell wanted only the "best and the brightest" to serve in his administration, regardless of their political connections, she said.

Bob McDonnell's lawyer, Henry Asbill, sought to dispel the notion that McDonnell's influence could be bought, asking Kelly what the former governor's philosophy was for dealing with donors.

"If you can't take someone's money and vote against their bill the next day, you shouldn't be in politics," Kelly said.

Her testimony painted a different picture than that of another cabinet secretary, Bill Hazel. Testifying for prosecutors, he said that as health secretary he met with Williams only because McDonnell asked him to. Hazel thought little of Williams or his tobacco-derived supplement, Anatabloc, and testified that he and his staffers derisively referred to Williams as the "Tic-Tac man" for the samples he doled out.

Before testimony began, Judge James R. Spencer told lawyers that a third juror has been excused from the case, this one to tend to a family emergency. That leaves only one alternate.

Bob McDonnell is expected to testify in his own defense at some point in the trial.

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