S.C. Gov.'s Rival Ups Calls for Criminal Probe Into Sanford

Rep. Sen. Knotts plans probe of gov. leaving S.C. without turning over control.

ByABC News
June 28, 2009, 1:00 PM

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2009 — -- Amid uncertainty over whether South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford broke the law and used state money in his trips to see his mistress in Argentina, the governor's chief rival told ABC News today that he'll pursue a criminal prosecution, even if he has to go to Washington, D.C.

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

"When you can't get results in your own state, there is a justice department in Washington," Knotts told ABC News. "I don't want to go that route. I want us to wash our own laundry and clean up our own act."

But Knotts added that he would go to the nation's capital, 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 said last week he'll repay more than $8,000 for that stop, which he claimed was strictly a trade trip 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 News. "We don't anticipate it unless somebody brought us new facts."

The South Carolina legislature, which can call for an investigation, is not in session until January. It can be called into a special session, but staffers said there has so far been little talk about that. In the legislature's absence, the attorney general can call a probe, but some say that's unlikely.