News & Politics

Bob McDonnell Nearly Got Indicted This Week

If the Virginia governor gets charged for his role in a gift scandal, it won't happen until he's out of office.

Why is this man smiling? Probably because he's not getting frog-marched. (Not this week, at least.) Photograph by Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

Federal prosecutors were all set to haul Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, into court in connection with the ongoing Star Scientific scandal, but thanks to the McDonnells’ lawyers appealing directly to top Justice Department officials, the indictments will wait until the McDonnells are out of the governors mansion, the Washington Post reported Wednesday night.

Prosecutors were reportedly set to drop indictments on Monday, alleging that the McDonnells promoted vitamin manufacturer Star Scientific in exchange for $165,000 in gifts from the company’s chief executive, Johnnie R. Williams. The Post reports, though, that the McDonnells’ lawyers went around the local US attorney last Thursday and pleaded directly with Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole to question the credibilty of a key witness and ask for a delay in the indictments.

The McDonnells were told the following day that the indictments would not come right away, and that the decision on whether or not to charge the governor and his wife will be made no sooner than early January, and likely not before January 11, when Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe is sworn in.

Bob McDonnell, once a rising star in the Republican Party and considered a possible 2016 presidential candidate, has apologized to Virginia residents profusely while maintaining he has done nothing wrong. Meanwhile, those same residents have been stuck with the bill for his legal fees, which totaled $575,000 through November. With this week’s cancelled indictments, if he does get charged, at least it’ll happen when he’s a private citizen again.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.