May 3rd, 2010
01:42 PM ET
5 years ago

Sanford avoids criminal charges following ethics investigation

 Governor Mark Sanford will not face criminal charges.
Governor Mark Sanford will not face criminal charges.

(CNN) - South Carolina's Attorney General has decided that Gov. Mark Sanford will not face criminal charges following an investigation into his travel and campaign expenses.

"After conducting a thorough investigation, the evidence does not support beyond a reasonable doubt that the governor knowingly, willfully, and intentionally set out to break state law, which is the criminal prosecutorial standard that must be reached," Attorney General Henry McMaster said Monday at a press conference in Columbia.

For the last five months, McMaster had been reviewing the results of a state ethics investigation into Sanford's use of state planes and campaign funds - a probe that started after media organizations began examining the governor's financial practices following his disclosure of an extramarital affair last June.

That investigation resulted in 37 ethics charges against the Republican governor, whose term expires in January. Sanford resolved the civil charges in March by paying $74,000 in fines.

But on Monday, McMaster said the ethics violations did not rise to the level of criminal conduct. The law, he argued, "requires a much higher standard before criminal prosecution is warranted."

"A criminal prosecution is not appropriate under these circumstances and we do not believe a criminal conviction could be obtained," McMaster added.

Sanford thanked the Attorney General and the ethics investigators for their "deliberate approach and work" in recent months. He said McMaster's decision reaffirms his belief that the Sanford administration has always "been a stalwart defender of the taxpayer. "


Filed under: Henry McMaster • Mark Sanford • Popular Posts • South Carolina
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Al-NY,NY

    if a democrat did the same, this schill would be leading the mob down the main street with pitchforks, torches, and nooses ready to "deal" with him.

    May 3, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. Voice of Reason

    Let me get this straight... He lies to his family, and to his state – goes to meet with his foreign mistress in Argentina using taxpayer's money for this, ah.. expedition... And after 5 months of investigation, the South Carolina Attourney General can find NOTHING INETHICAL about all this???

    In the neck-and-neck race to the top of the stupid-list, I think South Carolina just pulled ahead of Arizona...

    May 3, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. normajean

    What a joke. He hasn't broken state law? Well, he surely broke a lot of others, using money for his romantic trips that wasn't his to use . As far as I can see he's a crook and should be treated as such.

    May 3, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  4. g ontario

    just think if he was not a republican

    May 3, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. juge

    This decision is unethical and unbelievable.

    May 3, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. Pragmatic

    Republicans covering for republicans .... so what else is new in the party of "holier than thou" ...

    May 3, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. sharon

    wow................he can join all the other folks, with shady histories.....
    and hold office and go on even more and longer stays in other countries...........................at taxpapyers' espense , of course...........
    hope they have long "trails" to hike............don't ya' know......

    Ha..Ha...Ha....Ha...Ha....Ha.................oh my.

    May 3, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. TOTUS 4 PRESIDENT

    Meanwhile, where are the stories about Vera Baker?? Once again, the Nat'l Enquirer is doing the job that should be done by the MSM...

    May 3, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Shelly

    Are they exiling him to Argentina? How about the tax payer's money spent on the clandestine trips?

    May 3, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Just one conservative looking out for another.

    May 3, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. jfc1

    ah, so they had to prove that he knew about the state law, intentionally and willfully set out to break it, when he misused state funds to travel to Argentina to get laid?

    Interesting.

    Forget about the part of him checking to see if it was legal first. I see.

    May 3, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. abe

    What a way for someone to get off the hook. I do not care what he did with his love life but he should have been accountable for his decisions and disappearance. The Attorney General should check his inner soul/ or he is a Republican.

    May 3, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  13. VERNON MOREIRA

    let me start by saying I voted for Obama,What I guess is frustrating to alot of people is minoritys seem to be first in line for SSI, Welfare and othger goverment hand outs, and just by observing this makes me racist?Look at the facts, if this country is to move foward the race card needs to be retired. You cant hide behind perceived racism until you clean your own house!

    May 3, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. danny

    It is getting amazing how politicians are willing to not procecute their fellow politicians because they are really good people. They did not mean to forget to pay taxes and they forgot that taking bribes was illegal. They did not mean to steal that land from that farmer so that this rich cat could build a commerical enterprize on that parcel of land.

    May 3, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Ted

    Typical GOP crap. Had this been a democrat, the guy would have been impeached and chased down by some GOP ambulance chasing lawyer and his life trashed. This Sanford guy is getting off real easy at the hands of his own party, the Grand Obstructionist Party. The only punishment he got was his wife divorcing him and not standing up at his apology session. Jerk.

    May 3, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    It took McMaster 5 months to investigate the "facts"? And then he takes it upon himself to pre-"judge" the evidence in Sanford's favor? No need for a jury of peers on this one, right McMaster? Must be nice, Mr. Sanford, to have friends in high places to protect you from the law. "Rule of law", "country first",...what hypocrisy spews forth from today's [R] party.

    May 3, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. Wisconsinite

    "After conducting a thorough investigation, the evidence does not support beyond a reasonable doubt that the governor knowingly, willfully, and intentionally set out to break state law, which is the criminal prosecutorial standard that must be reached," I

    Isn't he putting the cart before the horse here?? As far as my legal understand of criminal charges goes, one does not have to support "beyond reasonable doubt" to bring charges against him, just that there is enough evidence to support the charges. The "beyond reasonable doubt" part comes in during jury deliberations. So McMaster is acting as prosecutor AND jury . . . why doesn't this surprise me coming from SC?

    May 3, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. Joseph B

    Republicans taking care of Republicans...

    As a bonus, McMaster is busy running for Governor of South Carolina and does not want to annoy any potential donors.

    May 3, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. Oregon Calling

    Resign already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Peace :-)

    May 3, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ah yes! The Good 'Ole Boys network is alive and well in South CaCalakee..

    Membership has its' privileges.

    May 3, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. John In Ely

    Only shows that the GOP is always a stalwart defender of the GOP.

    May 3, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. Fed Up!

    Charges would have been filed long ago had Sanford been a Democrat.

    May 3, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    The people in South Carolina never cease to amaze me. They are either as corrupt as this guy or they don't give a dam. This state has produced some of the sleazes politicians in this country. They are all republicans. The November election is coming up and they should get rid of these idiots.

    May 3, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Bubba

    He's a clown. He left the United States of America behind to cheat on his wife. What do you have to do in SC to be considered a villain?

    May 3, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Squigman

    Again, the law favors those in power, or those in the money. The common man would have been behind bars from the time the story broke until the end of time.

    May 3, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
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