South Carolina State Republican Calls for Criminal Prosecution of Governor Sanford

Jun 28, 2009 4:49pm

ABC News’ John Hendren reports: Gov. Mark Sanford’s chief rival tells ABC News today he’ll pursue a criminal prosecution of Gov. Mark Sanford — even if he has to go to Washington.

Republican state Sen. Jake Knotts last week asked South Carolina prosecutors to launch a criminal probe. Today, Knotts told ABC News, he plans to pursue an investigation in the state legislature, the state attorney general’s office – and possibly a federal probe.

“When you can’t get results in your own state, there is a Justice Department in Washington,” Knotts told ABC. “I don’t want to go that route. I want us to wash our own laundry and clean up our own act.”
But he said he would if necessary.

“Somebody’s gonna look at this,” Knotts said. “Somebody’s gonna look to the bottom of it and somebody’s gonna give me some answers.”

Knotts and others accuse the governor of leaving the state to visit his mistress without turning over control, and charging taxpayers for an earlier stop in Argentina where he visited her. Sanford says he’ll repay more than $8,000 for that stop, which he says was set up by state Commerce officials.
State prosecutors say so far, there’s nothing to investigate.

“At this point we have not launched an investigation,” Reggie Lloyd, Director of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, told ABC. “We don’t anticipate it unless somebody brought us new facts.”

With mounting pressure for a criminal probe against him, Sanford’s office tells ABC he intends to remain in office for the remaining 18 months of his term. Sanford spokesman told ABC News the governor briefly considered resigning as governor, saying "Given everything that has gone on, it's obviously something he considered, but he's determined to serve out his term."

The governor’s wife, Jenny Sanford, said that’s up to him.

“That is not a concern of mine,” she said last week. “He's going to have to worry about that, and I'm going to worry about my family and the character of my children.”

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