June 29th, 2009
04:11 PM ET
13 years ago

S.C. Attorney General accused of playing politics in Sanford case

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/26/art.hadad.cnn.jpg
caption="South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster has been accused of playing politics by failing to investigate Gov. Mark Sanford."]
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."

Filed under: Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Reformed Republican

    This slime Sanford has the stench of rot about him for pandering his "christian beliefs" to the evangelical chumps in SC who have no sense of smell to begin with.
    Sanford does not deserve the gift of "forgiveness" since he knows that bible believers will buy anything that they think is public confession. He's just a egotistical politician playing them for the suckers he knows they are – again...

    June 29, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. cjg

    The way most Repubs look at a scandal is that if they may perhaps mess up on their way to heaven it is after all forgivable , but if a Democrat messes up , he is after all on his way to hell anyway !
    Most judgemental people in this country are Southern Republicans!

    June 29, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Pete

    It's amusing seeing all the conservatives acting as if somehow THEY are the party of morals. Let's see here: Guliani (three marriages, one affair), Newt (three marriages, two affairs), Rush (three divorces), McCain (two marriages, one affair), Vitter (paid hookers, still a senator), Ted Haggard (meth fueled fling with male prostitute), Larry Craig (wide stance), Ensign (affair with married subordinate), Sanford (abandoned his state to fling with a woman he met on the internet, billed his citizens for his booty calls).

    I suppose if conservatives stop meddling in the private lives of ordinary people, ordinary people won't meddle in the lives of your leaders.

    June 29, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    The affair is between him and his wife – no business of the public's. His complete desertion of his post as Governor is very much a matter of public business. The same right wingers who crucified Bill Clinton for his affair said it was because he lied in a deposition, not because of the affair. Shouldn't the same standard apply for a Governor who goes AWOL and then lies to cover it up? Either way, the good people of South Carolina deserve better.

    June 29, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. D. Tree

    "Mixing politics and law enforcement is never a good idea,"

    But don't politicians make laws?

    June 29, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. Squirt

    Let's take a page from the one who has the most insightful view of this man and his abilities, capabilities and stability and follow her example. A lot of people would reach the conclusion that Jenny had the right idea...get rid of him....throw him out!

    June 29, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. Nick San Diego

    This is GREAT!!!!!!!!
    The Christian Conservative Right and The Party of NO with their high and mighty preaching about morals are killing themselves.
    Have no compassion. and tolerance of others....
    Get none

    June 29, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  8. Dieter Zerressen, Denver, CO

    Did you see Fox News showed Stanford with a "D" behind his name? They did that with Mark Foley too! Liars, all of them. Anyway the problem with the Republicans and religious zealots is that these folks are sexually repressed. Sex is a dirty, nasty, sin and should only be reserved for your wife (LOL). If they could ever get over the fact that humans and most animals can have guilt free sex, we'd all be better off for it.

    June 29, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. John Black Hills/SD

    The Attorney General knows that he'll probably find the Governor at a job interview in the not to distant future. McMaster is a lawyer, he knows the game of playing both sides of the same coin.

    June 29, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  10. Jeff

    I thought the GOP's new buzz word was "transparency"? Why no investigation. Sanford clearly used taxpayer money for his fling. As a SC taxpayer I can assure you I did not expect my money to go to sending Sanford to Argentina to see his girlfriend. (by the way – could care less who he sleeps with). If the AG doesn't have the guts to investigate in order to advance his political aspirations then the press needs to start filing some freedom of information requests. Maybe they can explain why dancing in Ecuador and shacking up in Argentina helps the people of SC. I work hard for my money. This is a travesty. Sanford is a rich man that doesn't have to sponge off of me and my family.

    June 29, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    They are birds of the same feathers flocking together.

    June 29, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. Pragmatic

    Considering that SC has a LAW on its books making adultery a Crime – and sobbing Sanford has admitted he committed adultery – case closed! He ignored both state law and God's Law.

    June 29, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. R in Maine

    Next time he will propose a fat South American on the theory that he can claim that it shows that the other party discriminates against Republicans.

    June 29, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  14. LacrosseMom

    Anyone surprised that a GOP Attorney General is supporting the GOP governor???

    IF the governor were a Democrat, he/she would have been impeached already!

    The GOP pure hypocrisy!

    June 29, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  15. Lisa in Shelton

    Playing politics to avoid proper investigation of potential crimes is no way to inspire the confidence of voters in 2010 – how will they believe you have honesty and integrity, if you protect your friends at the expense of taxpayers?!

    June 29, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. GOPer

    I'm sorry to say we're looking at an acholicic.

    June 29, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. Where Is My Money MARK?

    Some of you NUT BREADS said it isn't my business (WELL)
    It's my business if he has used my Tax Money, half of the republicans in South Carolina they hate Obama so bad everytime he opens his mouth to breath they probably saying why he got to inhale so much air, air cost to much, I hope my tax money isn't providing him with this much air thats all they cry about TAXES TAXES TAXES, but guess what ladies and gentlemen that doesn't live in SOUTH CAROLINA, I haven't heard a peep from these so call Republicans since Sanford used their tax money to get some Nookie, they are quiet as a turd, Obama went out on a date with his wife they yell FOUL but my GOV. who will be impeached soon goes on the other side of the world with my half of the tax money and he wasn't with his wife you know what they said well it's not really our business (bullcrap) it's my money and I want it NOW

    June 29, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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