COLUMBIA, S.C., May 3 (UPI) -- South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster Monday declined to pursue criminal charges against Gov. Mark Sanford.
McMaster ended a five-month investigation of Sanford following a State Ethics Commission inquiry that produced 37 civil charges against the governor.
McMaster examined Sanford's use of business-class air fare on foreign trade missions, his use of campaign funds for personal expenses, his failure to disclose use of private planes, his use of state aircraft for family trips and his use of state aircraft for non-official business.
"After conducting a thorough investigation, the evidence does not support beyond a reasonable doubt that the governor knowingly, willfully and intentionally set out to break state law, which is the criminal prosecutorial standard that must be reached," McMaster said in a statement, adding, "Therefore, the wtate of South Carolina will not bring criminal charges against Gov. Mark Sanford. This office considers the matter closed."
McMaster, a Republican candidate for governor, said in February he was conducting a criminal review of Sanford's travel and use of campaign funds.
The two-term Republican governor, barred from seeking a third term, resolved ethics charges against him by paying about $74,000 in fines and about $66,000 more in reimbursements to the state for the expenditures to resolve the civil charges.
Sanford defended his use of state aircraft and flying in more-expensive business class on commercial flights than allowed by state law by saying he flew less in state aircraft than his predecessors, saved taxpayers money by consolidating the state air fleet and used a smaller, less-expensive plane for many flights.
Sanford was formally rebuked by members of the South Carolina House of Representatives for his alleged actions. He also caught fire for his admitted affair with an Argentine woman.