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US solicitor general opposes ex-Va. governor's freedom bid

Updated at: 08/26/2015 5:21 PM
By LARRY O'DELL

(AP) RICHMOND, Va. - RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has not met the legal standard that would warrant allowing him to remain free while he appeals his corruption convictions to the Supreme Court, U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said in papers filed Wednesday.

McDonnell has asked the justices to let him remain free until they decide whether to review his case, arguing that he would suffer "irreparable harm" if he served most or all of his two-year prison term and his 11 convictions were later overturned. Chief Justice John Roberts ordered the government to respond before he or the court rules on the request.

Verrilli argued in a 40-page response that McDonnell has not demonstrated that the Supreme Court is likely to take his case and, if it does, that he is likely to succeed.

"The decision below does not raise broad questions of law on which courts disagree, but instead presents a sound application of settled legal principles to the facts established at trial," the solicitor general wrote.

McDonnell last week made a last-ditch plea to the high court to stay out of prison after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the same request.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted last September of doing favors for a wealthy businessman in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans. Maureen McDonnell was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, and a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in her case in late October.

An appeals court panel has already upheld Bob McDonnell's convictions, and the full 15-member court refused to reconsider. The appeals court also rejected the former governor's bid to remain free, so he asked the Supreme Court.

The case derailed the career of the rising Republican star, once viewed as a possible running mate to presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.

McDonnell has maintained his innocence and argued that he was unfairly charged for providing routine political courtesies that all politicians dole out. He plans to ask the Supreme Court to consider whether federal bribery laws are too vague.

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