COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - A Democrat in the South Carolina House of Representatives is accusing Republican Attorney General Henry McMaster of putting his own personal ambitions before the law by failing to launch an investigation into whether Gov. Mark Sanford misused state money and abused his power by traveling to Argentina to visit his mistress.
State Rep. Boyd Brown had written to McMaster last week asking him to empanel a state Grand Jury too examine those questions. State Sen. Jake Knotts, a Republican and Sanford opponent, also asked for the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate the governor.
On Friday, however, McMaster - who is running for governor in 2010 - issued a statement indicating an initial reluctance to launch an investigation. "I hope all sides will resist attempting to use the investigative and prosecutorial powers of law enforcement for political purposes," McMaster said. "Mixing politics and law enforcement is never a good idea."
Brown called the latter assumption "absurd."
"The duty of the Attorney General is to bring charges against and investigate the wrongdoings of elected officials," he told CNN.
Boyd sent a second letter to McMaster on Monday saying that "serious legitimate questions remain" about Sanford's behavior. Pointing to McMaster's own gubernatorial ambitions, Brown wrote: "I understand you would not want to tarnish your standing with any primary voters who might still hold Sanford in high esteem."
Some GOP allies of McMaster's potential 2010 rival, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, are suggesting that McMaster is stonewalling on a possible investigation because he doesn't want to see Sanford resign, which would elevate Bauer to the governorship before next year's race.
A spokesman for McMaster said he had received Brown's letter on Monday.
"The Attorney General stated Friday that if there is anything we don't know or any credible evidence that laws have been broken, then appropriate action should be taken," said McMaster spokesman Mark Plowden. "The only thing the Attorney General has refused to do is act in a reckless and politically motivated fashion."