COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - After hearing that Gov. Mark Sanford has visited his mistress in Argentina five times in the past year, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster decided Tuesday he better start looking into it.
McMaster said he has asked the State Law Enforcement Division to probe Sanford's travel records to see if any state money was used during Sanford's extramarrital affair with a former reporter from Argentina.
Sanford has made national headlines this month for disappearing and claiming he was hiking in the mountains while he was in Argentina visiting the woman.
"In light of the governor's disclosure of additional travel today, I have requested that SLED conduct a preliminary review of all Gov. Sanford's travel records to determine if any laws have been broken
or any state funds misused," McMaster said.
Sanford has said no state money was used.
Friday, McMaster, a Republican, said he wouldn't use the Sanford controversy to advance his own political ambitions, which include a run for governor next year.
Sanford is also a Republican and was seen as a possible presidential candidate in 2012 after his vehement criticism of President Barack Obama's plan to give federal stimulus funds to states.
"(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."
McMaster had said Friday none of the facts of the Sanford controversy seemed to be in dispute and would hold off on an investigation until new information broke.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at email@example.com.