Maureen McDonnell’s former chief of staff painted Virginia’s ex-first lady as a “nut bag” who was stressful to work with in her testimony Wednesday.
The Washington Post reported that Mary-Shea Sutherland, who served as McDonnell’s chief of staff from 2010 to 2011, testified she had been unhappy in her position with the first lady and was planning to leave the job in summer 2011. An attorney for McDonnell asked Sutherland if she recalled telling ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell’s chief of staff that she was “done being a baby sitter in a nuthouse” when she informed him she was looking for a new job.
Sutherland answered that she had said she was done being a babysitter, but couldn’t recall using the word “nuthouse.” Maureen McDonnell’s attorney then asked if Sutherland recalled calling the first lady a “nut bag” in interviews with prosecutors.
“I have used that before,” she responded, according to the Post. Asked if she’d said that specifically about the first lady, Sutherland said “Probably.”
Describing her time at the Executive Mansion as “almost two years of emotional stress,” Sutherland went on to describe how McDonnell was known to scream at staff or make false accusations against them.
“I remember getting a text message during the holidays having to do with the chef serving her bad shrimp and he was doing it intentionally to ruin her holidays,” she testified, as quoted by the Post.
Sutherland also downplayed the defense’s argument that the former first lady accepted gifts from donor Jonnie Williams because she developed a “crush” on him as her marriage to the governor fell apart.
In his opening statement, Maureen McDonnell’s attorney had referenced a staffer who could testify that the first lady referred to Williams as her “favorite playmate” — according to interview notes with FBI agents and prosecutors, that staffer was Sutherland. In Wednesday’s testimony Sutherland resisted the assertion that the “favorite playmate” quote implied any romantic connection between Williams and McDonnell, according to the Post.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.