McAuliffe calls for ethics reform after McDonnell sentencing

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell arrives at federal court in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. The prosecution in the McDonnell corruption case begins its rebuttal Thursday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Gov. Terry McAuliffe called the sentencing of former Gov. Bob McDonnell a “sad day” for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and outlined plans for additional ethics reform Wednesday.

“This was horrible for Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “As someone who has traveled the globe to try to bring business back, it’s horrible for our reputation. As I’ve always said, my heart goes out to the entire McDonnell family.”

The day McDonnell handed over the governorship, McAuliffe called for ethics reform.

“As soon as I was sworn in, within minutes, I signed an executive order for myself, my family, my administration and their entire family, that they will be subjected to a $100 cap,” the Governor said. “We have lived with that for the year, and I’m hoping that the General Assembly does the same thing.”

McAuliffe said, in addition to the $100 cap, he wants an ethics commission with teeth, and wants to prevent legislators from raising money while they are in special session. He also said he wants limits on intangible gifts.

“I mean, what is it when legislators can be taken on trips all over the globe, paid for by an interest group, that has legislation before them? If you want to go on vacation, you should pay for it yourself, just like every other citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said.

On Tuesday, Judge James Spencer sentenced Bob McDonnell to two years in federal prison with two months of probation. Spencer will sentence McDonnell’s wife Maureen next month.

Spencer referred to businessman Jonnie Williams as a serpent, saying, “While Ms. McDonnell may have allowed the serpent into the mansion, the governor knowingly brought him into his business and financial affairs.”

Defense attorney James Broccoletti said Bob McDonnell’s sentence of two years gives insight into what the judge could give the former governor’s wife.

“I think, number one, it sets a ceiling,” Broccoletti said. “I think it’s very difficult for the court to go above what was imposed upon the governor to impose upon the wife. Number two, I think what you’d be looking for is the distinctions that the court drew between the activities of the individuals.”

Although McDonnell got a sentence lower than what prosecutors called for, Broccoletti said Maureen’s team likely isn’t resting easy.

“I’m sure that they’re not going to relax in any way, in terms of the efforts that they’re going to put forth to make sure that she has the best possible disposition, but certainly, what happened yesterday is a significant event for them, in terms of, it gives them, I think, a great deal of hope in moving forward,” Broccoletti said.

A source close to the investigation said Maureen McDonnell will get less time than her husband because she was not the elected official, and that whatever time she serves will likely include home confinement.

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