RICHMOND, Va. (WUSA9) -- A tattered flag of the Commonwealth flies above Virginia's state capitol. Inside the building, questions of wheeling dealing in the historic governor's mansion may be coming to a head.
"We're got to let the judicial system play out," said Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe. He said that neither he nor anybody on his behalf lobbied the justice department to delay an indictment of current governor Bob McDonnell.
McDonnell has said repeatedly that he did nothing wrong. But The Washington post reports that the governor and his wife Maureen would have been indicted this week. The charge: illegally promoting the dietary-supplement company Star Scientific in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from its CEO Jonnie Williams.
A possible indictment may not come until after McAuliffe is sworn in on January 11th.
"The McDonnell Administration has been nothing but spectacular to my team... It may be the smoothest transition we've had in Virginia history," said McAuliffe. But if the reason to delay a grand jury hearing was to allow for a smooth transition, VCU political Scientist Deidre Condit calls that special treatment troubling.
She said that if having a nice pretty transition comes at the expense of a public official being held accountable to the law speaks poorly to the role of democracy and the citizens who are part of it.
The year-long gift probe of the governor and his wife has shined a bright light on Virginia's lax ethics laws. Elected state officials only have to report any gift over $50. Theirs is no limit on how much they can take.
McAuliffe says he will change that with his second executive order after he takes office. "I will place a $100 gift ban on everyone in my administration...There will be a new ethics law by the time the General Assembly leaves. I'm very confident of that," he said.
McAuliffe said that he completed his goal of sitting down with every Republican lawmaker and found ethics reform to be common ground for both sides of the aisles. McAuliffe's first executive order will be to ban discrimination at the state level on the basis of sexual orientation.
A final decision about whether to press charges is not expected before Jan. 2 and could come as late as February.