The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that the Department of Justice agreed to delay making a final decision on whether to indict Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen in connection with a corruption scandal around taking illegal gifts from the CEO of nutritional supplements company called Star Scientific.
The investigation, which has gone on for almost a year, revolves around $165,000 in gifts and benefits that the Virginia governor took from Star Scientific, whose products he promoted. McDonnell has insisted that he would have done the same for any Virginia company and the gifts were simply the result of his friendship with Star Scientific's CEO.
According to the Post, federal prosecutors had told McDonnell last Monday that they would bring criminal charges against him and his wife as a result of this investigation but the Virginia governor then went over their heads to the Justice Department and successfully convinced the DOJ to delay bringing charges. Reportedly, McDonnell, in addition to casting doubt on a key witness, asked that an indictment be delayed until after he leaves office on January 11 when Terry McAuliffe succeeds him in Richmond.
This saga marks a dramatic fall from grace for McDonnell, who was considered to be a contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination not that long ago. Instead, he has become a political pariah who was praised more often by McAuliffe than by Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor, on the campaign trail during the Virginia governor's race this year. But as low as McDonnell's political fortunes have fallen, at least he won't have to join the company of disgraced politicians like Rod Blagojevich who have been indicted while serving as governor.