Saenuri Party spokesman Kim Young-woo said it wouldn't be fair for the party's top presidential hopeful, Rep. Park Geun-hye, who was head of the party when a nomination payoff allegedly occurred, to shoulder the blame.
"Somebody should take responsibility and offer an apology to the people, but we cannot have our party's leading candidate do so after she has already sacrificed herself twice when the party was in crisis," Yonhap News Agency quoted Kim as saying at a news conference.
"So I, an unworthy man, have to do that, as I was the party's vice secretary and now serve as a spokesman."
At the heart of the scandal is an alleged $265,000 payment Rep. Hyun Young-hee paid to Hyun Ki-hwan, then a member of the party's nomination committee, before April's general elections. Both have denied the payment allegations, which have triggered an investigation by prosecutors, Yonhap said.
Three other Saenuri Party presidential hopefuls -- Yim Tae-hee, a former chief of staff to President Lee Myung-bak, Gyeonggi province Gov. Kim Moon-soo and former South Gyeongsang province Gov. Kim Tae-ho -- have called for the resignation of party Chairman Hwang Woo-yea and said they would boycott the party's Aug. 20 primary.