A federal grand jury returned a 14-count indictment against the governor and his wife, according to charging documents.
The charges stem from state and federal inquiries into the couple's relationship with a prominent donor, Jonnie R. Williams, the head of a dietary supplements manufacturer. Williams showered the McDonnells and their family with gifts and favorable loans, some of which the governor has either returned or repaid.
"I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment for which I take full responsibility. However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship," McDonnell said Tuesday in a statement provided to the Washington Post.
The charges represent a stunning fall from grace for McDonnell, the Republican governor from a swing state that doubles as a political seat of power. Mitt Romney considered the governor as a potential running mate in 2012, before the 2013 trial of a former executive chef for McDonnell on unrelated charges unearthed details about the governor's relationship with Williams.
The scandal weighed on the 2013 campaign to replace McDonnell, since Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli had also accepted gifts from Williams and faced the risk of being tied to McDonnell.