COLUMBIA, S.C., Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Problems facing South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford headed into a new arena this week involving the man who would replace him if he steps down, lawmakers said.
A legislative ally of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer charged Sanford and his supporters are spreading rumors that Bauer, like Sanford a Republican, is gay.
GOP State Sen. Jake Knotts made the charge in a letter to South Carolina legislators Wednesday that Politico, the Washington political news service, said it had obtained. Knotts charged Sanford, 49, and his allies had "stooped to a new low" in orchestrating a "false character assassination."
Bauer denied he was homosexual in an interview with the Columbia State newspaper but the rumors have continued, Politico said.
Now the feud has become part of the drama surrounding Sanford, whose alleged adulterous affair with an Argentine woman has led to calls for his resignation. Bauer, who would succeed Sanford if he left office, joined in the call for Sanford's resignation last week.
"The timing of this smear campaign is obviously not a coincidence," Knotts, a close ally of Bauer, said in his letter.