Herring, a Democrat, and a well respected prosecutor has been asked by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to review Governor Bob McDonnell's link to Star-Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. The Richmond Times-Dispatch discovered the request and this afternoon the AG's office confirmed that the request was made in November of 2012.
Cuccinelli has asked Herring to undertake a similar review of his gifts from Williams.
McDonnell has been under fire because of his connections to Williams and because of thousands of dollars in gifts the CEO gave to his family but that McDonnell never disclosed. State law requires public officials themselves to disclose when they recieve gifts, but it does not require an official's family to do so as well.
What remains a mystery is exactly what Herring is looking for and what could emerge from his investigations. Democrats have long implied and in some cases outright accused both the Governor and the Attorney General of providing Williams special treatment. The two have vehemently denied those charges.
It is also not clear when Herring will reveal his findings. Whatever the outcome it promises to play an important role in the 2013 gubernatorial election. If Herring finds unethical or even criminal behavior in either officials, it will double down the attacks Democrats have been making for several months. However, if the Democrat discovers that the two did nothing wrong it has the potential to mute the charges and take that weapon out of the campaign arsenal of the Terry McAuliffe campaign.
What everyone is hoping for is some degree of clarity. Did McDonnell and Cuccinelli do something wrong and if so what if any punishment should they get?
The answer could go a long way into deciding who Virginia's next governor will be.
The statement on the investigation from the Attorney General's office can be found after the jump: