(CNN) – An outspoken critic of Mark Sanford is accusing the embattled South Carolina governor of orchestrating a smear campaign against Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.
Republican State Sen. Jake Knotts wrote to fellow members of the state legislature on Wednesday accusing Sanford and his allies of spreading rumors that Bauer is gay - a claim that was reported earlier this week by a blogger who seeks to out closeted conservative politicians.
"As a former target of a false rumor started by the Sanford Camp I can tell you with absolute certainty this attack was orchestrated on behalf of Mark Sanford, either directly or indirectly, and financially subsidized by him or one of his many 'front-groups,'" Knotts wrote. The letter was first reported by "The Palmetto Scoop," a South Carolina political Web site.
Knotts, an ally of Bauer and a fierce opponent of Sanford, said there is no truth to the gay rumors that have dogged Bauer for years.
"I have known Andre since he was eight years old," Knotts told CNN. "Ain't a homosexual bone in his body. That boy is a good boy. It's a just an attempt to prevent Andre from become governor."
Bauer publicly called on Sanford to resign last week, a request that was promptly rejected by the governor. Bauer is also planning to enter the crowded race to succeed Sanford next year. If Sanford resigns or is forced from office before his term expires, Bauer would assume the governorship, a move that would allow him to run as an incumbent in 2010. Bauer said if Sanford resigns within the next month, he would bow out of the governor's race.
Bauer himself addressed the gay rumors earlier this summer, telling The State newspaper: "One word, two letters. 'No.' Let's go ahead and dispel that now."
"It's an absolute effort by Sanford's people to discredit Andre," Knotts said of the rumors. "Sanford hates Andre so bad it's pitiful."
Knotts said allies of the governor shopped the rumor because "they dont like that Andre is young, Andre is smart, and they see Andre as a threat to them."
"Every time I have seen Andre and as long as I've known him, he's always had a pretty girlfriend," Knotts told CNN. "They love him, he treats them well, he treats them nice, he treats them with respect. He doesn't hang out in bars and go from woman to woman. Everybody that knows Andre knows for sure he ain't been seen hanging on to no damn man."
Sanford's office pushed back hard against Knotts' allegations.
"This letter is simply wrong - and in that regard, as bizarre as many of the other claims and attacks of recent weeks," said Sanford spokesman Ben Fox. "Some have even argued this indeed points to an obsession with slandering anyone who tries to change the 'good ol' boy' system of politics in Columbia.
"South Carolina is facing serious challenges, and the Governor is dedicated to addressing these challenges alongside other members of the legislature committed to the same," he said. "We have a state capital with too much spending, too little transparency, and as shown by this letter, at times too many political attacks."
Knotts is the state senator who first raised questions about Sanford's mysterious absence from Columbia in June, before it was revealed that the governor had left the country to visit his mistress. In the letter to fellow legislators, he repeated his demand that Sanford step down or be impeached.
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Ouch....this is getting real ugly!
Sounds like a personal agenda on the part of the state senator to me. Wow, this is what the Republican party is like?
Given that most Republican politcians are closeted homosexuals Sanford may have a point!
This guy can't shut up.
Awful lot of innuendo and smear tactics going on in SC. Never ceases to amaze me: the fundamental, conservative, Christian good 'ol boys calling the kettle black. That rumor started somewhere, and has roots. Those aren't rumors that just happen. And, anyway, who CARES? The guy says "Andre's a good boy".....what's THAT mean? Gay "boys" are "bad" boys? These people all need to get real lives. THIS is their excitement, ya think?
This rumor didn't come from Sanford....but this rumor has been around here in SC for years...and yes Mr.Knotts...Good Boys can't be gay???you are a hypocrite also.
I guess if you're a conservative White Southern politician, Gay is the new Black...
It doesn't matter If he's gay or straight. He's not the one who messed up Stanford did.So enough said good bye Stanford. NEXT!
And......................................so what if he was gay? Sanford, if you have stated this about Bauer, you need to get out of office.
It's all about distraction. If I get the right wingers up in arms over a gay person then they will leave me alone. I hope the Lt. Governor sues him for slander.
As a gay American – I just want to thank all of you for picking up on the bigoted statement from Knotts and calling him on the carper for it.
It's good to see that so many Americans have moved past judging people based on stereotypes or preconcieved notions and are instead judging them on the content of their character.
And the ones that haven't evolved – are members of a political party that is quickly becoming extinct. Good riddance.
More from the good christian, mark sanford....
Me? I'd rather have an honest gay who is comfortable with his/her sexuality than a slithery, snaky, whiny, hypocritical, philandering, lying , thieving mark snafu-rd for my governonr. Or friend. Or next door neighbor.
Come out! Come out! Wherever you are. And join the disgraced Governor who fell from a star.
Gay, straight, or bi, there's no possible way he can be as stupid as the current governor. Of course, in the South being gay is about the worst thing that a person can be. Sigh...
""I have known Andre since he was eight years old," Knotts told CNN. "Ain't a homosexual bone in his body. That boy is a good boy. It's a just an attempt to prevent Andre from become governor."
Wow... so if he were gay he wouldn't be 'good?"
This sounds like Glenn Beck segment! LOL
Isn't Sanford single now too?
What would be wrong, if he was gay?
How much more dirt will SC continue to let Sanford shove in their faces before their representatives all look like fools. Send this guy a one way first class ticket to Argentina and be done with him.
The 21st century has not yet arrived in many of the deep-fried states.
Trust me on this one, it is a BIG DEAL down here. Take it from a Yankee living in South Carolina.
They are in the dark ages down here...
Gotta love this wingnut effort to change the subject?
Thief is good.
Gay is bad
Cheater is good
Gay is bad.
Get back under your rocks!
Sanford is a fool (I'd use other words if I could) for spreading the rumor, but Knotts is possibly even worse for implying that being gay has anything to do with being "bad" (in his words, bad bones). UGH!
I feel sorry for the people of South Carolina to be saddled with this poor excuse of a man!