WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to review former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell’s latest bid to overturn the corruption charges against him - a move that prompted the ex-politician's lawyer to vow to take the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had unanimously upheld McDonnell's convictions in July. On Tuesday, it issued a two paragraph order saying the full 15-member court declined to reconsider the panel’s ruling.
Eight judges voted against rehearing McDonnell's case, and seven others "deeming themselves disqualified, did not participate," the order said.
McDonnell attorney Henry Asbill declined to say whether his client will have to report to prison but told The Associated Press that he would appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A jury in September found McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of doing favors for wealthy vitamin executive Jonnie Williams in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans.
The former Republican governor, once widely considered a possible running mate for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was convicted of 11 counts and was sentenced to two years in prison. His wife was sentenced to one year and one day on eight counts. Both have been free while they pursue separate appeals.
It's unclear whether Bob McDonnell will now be required to report to prison. He can still appeal his convictions to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Richmond-based appeals court has scheduled oral arguments in Maureen McDonnell's case for late October.
According to trial testimony, Williams showered the McDonnells with lavish gifts -- including a Rolex watch for the governor, about $20,000 in designer clothing for the first lady and $15,000 to pay for catering at a daughter's wedding -- while the former Star Scientific Inc. president was seeking state university research on his company's signature product. He also loaned the McDonnells thousands of dollars on exceptionally favorable terms to help them pay off debt and keep their money-losing Virginia Beach vocation rental properties afloat.
Meanwhile, the McDonnells attended promotional events and hosted a product launch event for Anatabloc, the tobacco-derived anti-inflammatory manufactured by Williams' company. Bob McDonnell also arranged meetings with administration officials for Williams, who wanted not only the university research but also inclusion of Anatabloc in the state's employee health plan.
The former governor has insisted that he provided nothing more than routine political courtesies and access to Williams and that he was convicted under an overly broad definition of bribery.
He also claimed on appeal that his lawyers were not given enough opportunity to question whether any potential jurors had been influenced by intensive news coverage of his case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.