After a review of Governor Sanford’s travel records, SLED officials say they found no laws broken. That investigation was called for by the South Carolina Attorney General, who did not call for a special investigator to help him. But Democratic leaders are calling for other investigations.
State lawmakers can form an investigative committee and hire a special investigator.
James Underwood, a distinguished professor emeritus at the USC Law School and an expert on constitutional law, says the legisture also has the ability to appoint a special investigator.
But he says the question is what will lawmakers define as misconduct in office, if the governor actually conducted official business on his trips. “Say he spends the bulk of his time doing government business but has a sexual encouter during his off hours. Are you going to say that constitutes misuse of government funds?”
Underwood says pressing the issue just because the governor did what he wanted to on his off time while on a business trip would open up a “Pandora’s box” in the statehouse. “If you start prosecuting people for that, you’re opening a real Pandora’s box and you may end up prosecuting all kinds of people who do government business but then go out and spend a few hours on a fling of some sort.”
Underwood says such an investigation could lead to quite a commotion in the statehouse, and a “feeding frenzy.” “Who knows, when you start that sort of thing, how far it will go. You might develop a feeding frenzy of moral uprightness that would bring a lot of people into the orbit of those investigations. They might think they can close the Pandora’s box once they’ve opened it, but who knows?”
Former Attorney General charlie Condon says McMaster has the option of a special prosecutor, and should consider that option, since McMaster is running for Governor. It’s obvious that if further investigation without that special prosecutor finds wrongdoing, and Sanford is forced from office, then Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer would become Governor, giving him a possible headstart above other candidates, like McMaster. McMaster said he has faith in SLED’s thoroughness.