Sanford files suit against McMaster over stimulus issue

John O'Brien May 21, 2009, 4:21pm

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has filed a lawsuit over lawmakers attempting to make him accept federal stimulus funds.

Sanford filed the lawsuit in federal court Thursday after the state Legislature overrode his veto of the budget on Wednesday. Part of the stimulus money is to be sent to Sanford so he can put it in education programs.

Sanford refused nearly $700 million, saying it should be used to fix the state's debt. If he accepts it, he wants the Legislature to put that same amount into fixing the debt.

The suit is filed against state Attorney General Henry McMaster because he is the chief enforcer of state law.

McMaster has already delivered an opinion on the matter, in which he wrote that if the Legislature attempted to force Sanford to request the funds it would create a "constitutional standoff."

The state Supreme Court declined to review the issue until the Legislature acted. Now the justices may be asked to weigh in.

"Until (action by the legislature), there is no real and substantial controversy, as opposed to a contingent, hypothetical or abstract dispute, upon which this Court can render a declaratory judgment," the Court wrote in April.

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