(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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You really need to consider the track record of the blogger who outed the Lt. Governor. It's impressive.
Say what you will about whether outing someone is right or not, if Bauer has been outed on BlogActive, there's good reason to believe it.
The last thing any politician wants is for a former spouse, boyfriend, or sex partner to stand up in public and speak out. Often, more than just "the basics" are revealed and careers are ruined.
If the Lt. Governor is gay, so what? That, by itself, should not be the issue. If he's lying about being gay, and has worked against his own community with the power of his position, that's a problem.
I'd say the gentleman from South Carolina has about a week to fess up or face the very public consequences.
A rat cornered, tries to bite. I hope these hateful people are not calling themselves Christian.
These pretentious appeals to increasingly out-dated, delightfully stilted, narrow-minded realms of conformity are sad, petty. Often, it really does appear that GOP members are living in Victorian times to the relish of the party's faithful. Suggesting or responding to charges or rumors that define being "gay" as a discredit to someone who is otherwise respectable is on the same level with saying that "falling in love" is a discredit to those who have fallen in love or ever might fall in love without asking for permission first. We will never move forward as a society until we get beyond the petty rhetoric of "name calling" and move on to the solemn business of resolving the real problems that confront us all. As a nation. As a continent. As a world.
Republicans in a dog fight with each other? Self destruction continues.
Just resign. Let's get all scum out of politics...pelosi, sanford, rangel, and the communists in Obama's administration.
This is ashame, the statement should have been No he is not gay but even if he was what difference would that make. I am embarassed by Knotts statement.
I don't normally like to be a target, but being homosexual ain't natural or good, that's for sure. If it were, don't you think God or evolution (whichever you prefer) would have allowed men to procreate together and ditto for women? I'm just saying, think about it....
And so I say unto thee yet again, my fellow Americans, irony is completely and utterly lost on the GOPers.
Sanford is sleazy and shameless.
Does Sanford seriously believe that God wants him to stay in office? That's the latest I've heard. I have a hard time believing it, seeing how Sanford has not only committed adultery, but now appears to be bearing false witness and smearing others.
You've broken two of the Commandments, Sanford.
Check out Exodus 20:14 and 20:16.
You're a fraud.
How kind of him to say that he not gay, he's a "good boy", as though all gay people (read again, PEOPLE), are inherently evil.
Gotta hand it to South Carolina ... there's bad, and then there's just as bad. Where do the voters find all these "good ole boys?" We can only hope they'll secede again, and take Texas with them.
It is past time for this guy to go. It's amazing what some of these creeps will do to stay in power.
South Carolina retains its crown as the right-wing smear campaign capital of America. Lee Atwater would be proud if he were alive to see what he created.
The GOP has solidified its position as the party of hate, resentment and fear-mongering. How do they convince so many people to work against their own best interests? Very scary.
I thought the stupidest people in America all lived in Texas or Florida. Now we need to make room for South Carolina on the list.
I often thought that the South should have seceded..let them go! If a mansion was for sale for $1000. in the south, I STILL wouldn't move there. Yuck! And gee, with friends like Knotts, I'd be a little worried about being gay around there. Finally, what's with the use of the word (or non-word) "ain't" Where on earth did they go to school? Yuck again.
Nice try at changing the argument but you are still a cheating sleazebag hypocrite who needs to resign NOW.
What are these guys? Junior high kids? Oh, grow up!
Oh God, next Bauer will have part Native American blood in him, or worse, he'll have read the Harry Potter books!
Being gay makes it that he's not "a good boy," imagine what being a reading minority would do!
Have they not figured out that saying someone is gay is not that big of a deal?
When will people figure out that has long disappeared as something negative?
Let me guess....God told the Sanford to do this!
To good, Keep Sanford in office till the end of his term, this is to much fun!!!
Mike Rogers, a guy with a FLAWLESS track record of confirming his stories with NUMEROUS and INDEPENDENT sources, broke this story. Mike Rogers is hardly a tool of the right wing. Mark Sanford is certainly a duplicitous sleazebag, but that doesn't change the fact that Andre Bauer is a closet-case.
Lets see and it's the Lord who told you it's OK because your a republican.
He is not. He's a good boy. Sanford's a hypocrite.
I'll never leave and you can't make me.
Just what about this exchange makes anyone believe that either one is qualified to serve the public.