Left, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the War Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey, January 21, 2014. Right, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Monday, Dec. 16, 2013.
Lucas Jackson/Reuters, Steve Helber/AP Photo

Meet the Class of 2009

In November 2009, the political winds were clearly blowing in a direction Republicans liked. The effects of the Great Recession were still taking a severe toll; the unemployment rate was rising; and a divisive fight over health care reform dominated attention on Capitol Hill.
The year offered three competitive gubernatorial elections in three very different locales. Let’s pause to take a look at how the winners of those elections look four years later.
Republican Bob McDonnell won Virginia’s gubernatorial race in 2009, though things didn’t turn out well for him.
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted today by a federal grand jury on 14 counts stemming from the first couple’s acceptance and solicitation of thousands in gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman during McDonnell’s term. […]
Taken together, the charges, if they resulted in convictions and  maximum sentences, could produce fines in excess of $1 million and put the McDonnells behind bars for decades.
Republican Chris Christie won New Jersey’s gubernatorial race in 2009, and things aren’t exactly going his way, either.
The state Senate and Assembly will act as one while investigating the George Washington Bridge controversy. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) will combine the two existing special investigative committees they lead into one bicameral committee going forward.
There are other ongoing Christie scandals – alleged corruption regarding aid to Hoboken, taxpayer-financed post-Sandy ads, among others – that continue to percolate as well.
And then there’s the other Republican governor elected in 2009.
His name Benigno Fitial; he was re-elected as governor of the Northern Mariana Islands that year; and he ended up getting impeached in 2013 (thanks to my colleague Laura Conaway for the heads-up).
The governor of the Northern Mariana Islands was impeached [in February 2013] by the territorial House on 13 articles, among them that he had a federal prisoner released in order to give him a massage, The Saipan Tribune reports.
Gov. Benigno Fitial (R) was hit with 13 articles of impeachment … connected to allegations of corruption. The proceeding follows an unsuccessful attempt to impeach Fitial several years ago. Fitial is an ally of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who went to prison on corruption charges following lobbying efforts he made on behalf of the Northern Mariana Islands and tribal gaming issues.
Among the charges, Fitial is accused of having his private masseuse released without permission from a federal prison in 2010 in order to give him a massage. The Saipan Tribune reports that Fitial said that he did not know about the masseuse’s incarceration until he called her to relieve back pain that he said only she could cure. Other charges against Fitial include neglect of duty and corruption.
So, in just one one year, three Republican governors were elected. One was impeached in the face of corruption allegations, one was indicted on corruption charges, and one is at the center of several corruption controversies, including one in which the governor admits some of his top aides engaged in serious misconduct.
Update: Fitial was re-elected, rather than just elected in 2009. I’ve edited the above text to reflect that.
Related video:
The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/21/14, 10:25 PM ET

Cursed election year for GOP governors

Rachel Maddow points out that the governor of the Northern Mariana Islands, Benigno Fitial, was impeached in 2013, making 2009 bad news for new GOP governors.

Culture of Corruption

Meet the Class of 2009