Sanford affair won't become publicity target for McMaster

John O'Brien Jun. 29, 2009, 2:00pm


COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster says he won't try to take advantage of the recent troubles Gov. Mark Sanford is enduring.

Sanford has declared he won't resign despite the publicity his extramarrital affair with a woman in Argentina has received. He had claimed to be hiking in the mountains when many couldn't find him almost two weeks ago but was instead visiting the woman.

McMaster, who has said it is "highly likely" he will run for governor in 2010, said he won't pile on his Republican partymate, who may face an investigation to determine if he misused state funds.

"(C)riminal investigations should never be politically inspired," McMaster said in a statement Friday.

"I hope all sides will resist attempting to use the investigative and prosecutorial powers of law enforcement for political purposes. Mixing politics and law enforcement is never a good idea."

Sanford was once seen as a possible presidential candidate in 2012 and protested President Barack Obama's stimulus package to the states more than any of his fellow governors.

Some have called for him to resign, while some want to know if he used public money to visit the woman, a former television reporter.

McMaster said he has complete confidence in the professionalism of the State Law Enforcement Division to conduct any investigation.

"If there is anything we don't know, or if there is any credible evidence that any laws have been broken, then appropriate action should be taken," McMaster said.

"At this point, none of the facts appear to be in dispute. The governor has freely admitted everything he has been accused of."

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