RICHMOND, Va. — For the past few weeks, much of former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s defense in his federal corruption trial has been pretty simple — what he did for businessman Jonnie Williams, and what Williams did for him, was all just business as usual.

In arguing his innocence by showing the jury his relationship with Williams was perfectly normal, McDonnell and his defense team are also pinpointing how detrimental it can be to Virginia when the governor views it as part of his job description to give privilege to particular firms, one economist says.

“If you leave the honey jar out, you can expect ants,” Matt Mitchell, an economist with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, told Watchdog.org. “… If you’re a rational business person and you know that one person has complete discretion in favoring your firm or not, it makes sense that you’ll try to curry favor with him.”