University of Mary Washington political science professor Stephen Farnsworth said a retrial is unlikely, but possible. He noted that McDonnell encouraged state employees and members of his administration to study the dietary supplement—an action he said might meet the Supreme Court’s corruption threshold.
But the ruling creates a “high barrier” to retrying the case, Farnsworth added.
In his ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that “setting up a meeting, calling another public official, or hosting an event does not, standing alone, qualify as an ‘official act.’ ”
“It’s pretty clear the Supreme Court decision allows politicians to continue to solicit and receive goodies from friends and donors, provided they don’t make explicit promises about what they will do in return,” Farnsworth said.
Regardless of what happens next, a political comeback isn’t in the cards for McDonnell, he said. A University of Mary Washington survey in October 2014 showed that 60 percent of Virginians thought he should be sentenced to prison.
Farnsworth said he doesn’t think public opinion has changed much since then.
“The bottom line is that the public was really upset at what the governor did, and that’s part of his legacy,” he said. “Whether the conviction stands or not, the governor was faulted in the court of public opinion.”