Former Virginia Governor Indicted; Yes, There’s A Westport Angle

“06880” prides itself on our ability to tie nearly any story — anywhere — back to Westport.

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Including the indictment earlier this week of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen. They’re charged with accepting $165,000 worth of Os­car de la Renta dress­es, a Rolex watch, Louis Vuit­ton shoes, Cape Cod week­ends, golf greens fees and cash from the head of a di­etary sup­ple­ment com­pa­ny that hoped for state aid.

The current issue of The Washingtonian has an exhaustive, 4,000-word story on Todd Schneider. He’s the governor’s former chef who blew the whistle on the fishy doings down in Richmond.

He was once so close to the first family, Maureen asked if he’d go to Washington if McDonnell became vice president.

But he chafed when Maureen sent him text messages as late as 2 a.m., ordering him to fetch “everything from liquor to tampons.” If he didn’t bring back the exact items demanded, she’d “browbeat” him, Schneider said.

“Have you ever gone and bought tampons?” he added. “There’s a million different kinds.”

Schneider also says the McDonnells’ college-age kids removed “cases and cases” of Gatorade, soda and water from the kitchen, plus “half” his pots and pans, drinking glasses with the state seal, and “boxes of unused trash bags.”

Eventually, Schneider got fired. He himself is no prize. The Washingtonian says he was charged with felony embezzlement in 2000; AP says he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge. He had more than $400,000 in state and federal tax liens.

Todd Schneider, when he was executive chef for Governor McDonnell.

Todd Schneider, when he was executive chef for Governor McDonnell.

But he catered for the stars: former governor Tim Kaine, Republican House majority leader Eric Cantor, George W. Bush’s Thanksgiving address, and the Obama presidential campaign.

So how did he end up hired for the governor’s mansion? Whether or not the staff ran a background check on him is in dispute.

The magazine story goes on and on. Bottom line: Schneider was concerned that too much “weird stuff” was going on in his kitchen, with the McDonnells and their political patron Jonnie Williams. He then took cell phone photos of anything that smelled funny.

Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell.

Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell.

But someone called in an anonymous tip that it was Schneider who was stealing food from the governor’s mansion. The FBI and state police woke him up one morning last year, for questioning.

The chef was fired. Soon, he handed the Virginia attorney general a stack of documents — like a check showing that Williams had paid for the governor’s daughter’s wedding, and photos of “Costco-size hauls of snacks the McDonnell kids had lifted from the mansion.”

More stuff happened to Schneider, most of it bad. The Washingtonian story goes on and on, longer almost than all the documents Edward Snowden leaked to the media.

So what does all this have to do with “06880”?

According to The Washingtonian, Schneider grew up in Westport. And he “got the ‘food bug’ while working for the catering company of his hometown celebrity, Martha Stewart.”

Former Westporter Martha Stewart. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Former Westporter Martha Stewart. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

But — in keeping with this convoluted, contradictory tale — “a Stewart spokeswoman couldn’t confirm that Martha ever employed Schneider.” And his name rings no bells with many longtime Westporters.

Schneider has not been charged with a crime (this time). But his business has gone kaput, and his house went into foreclosure.

Sometime in the future, ex-Governor McDonnell and his wife may follow Martha Stewart to prison.

You can’t make this stuff up.

But it’s all part of “06880 — where Westport meets the world.”

(To read the entire VERY long piece in The Washingtonian, click here.)

3 responses to “Former Virginia Governor Indicted; Yes, There’s A Westport Angle

  1. Britt Anderson

    Dan, Since I live in Virginia and work in Richmond, I especially enjoyed this morning’s blog. Great humor to start the day.

  2. Sandy Soennichsen

    Now Dan, that was quite a stretch. A slow news day? Other than the news headlines about the governor and his wife, none of those people are worth spending any time even thinking about. Sorry.

    • Actually, Sandy, I was aware of the claimed connection and as a lifelong Westporter who has never heard of Monsieur Chef, I have been curious if Dan’s blog post would flush out anyone who remembers this guy or his claimed connection to town. Still waiting….