A prominent South Carolina lawmaker has
accused Governor Mark Sanford of a smear campaign against Lieutenant
Governor Andre Bauer. State Senator Jake Knotts says Sanford and his
supporters are behind a rumor that Bauer is gay.
Knotts, a Republican, is an outspoken
critic of the governor.
“As a former target of a false rumor
started by the Sanford Camp I can tell you with absolute certainty
this attack was orchestrated on behalf of Mark Sanford, either
directly or indirectly, and finally subsidized by him or one of his
many 'front-groups',” Knotts said
Wednesday in a letter distributed to South Carolina lawmakers.
Gay rumors have dogged Bauer for years,
but on Monday activist blogger Mike Rogers, who claims a perfect
outing record, called Bauer “a closeted anti-gay politician” in a
blog post at blogactive.com. Bauer, who assumed office in 2003 after
serving in both chambers of the Legislature, often appears alongside
of anti-gay former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Sanford, a Republican, continues to
resist calls to step down over an embarrassing sex scandal. Last
week, Bauer, who is next in line for the governor's mansion, joined
the chorus of elected officials calling for Sanford's resignation.
Knotts called the rumor's timing into question, saying it is
“obviously not a coincidence.”
In an interview with CNN, Knotts
vouched for Bauer's heterosexuality: “I have known Andre since he
was eight years old. Ain't a homosexual bone in his body. That boy
is a good boy. It's just an attempt to prevent Andre from becoming
“Every time I have seen Andre and as
long as I've known him, he's always had a pretty girlfriend. They
love him, he treats them well, he treats them nice, he treats them
with respect. He doesn't hang out in bars and go from woman to
woman. Everybody that knows Andre knows for sure he ain't been seen
hanging on to no damn man,” the senator added.
Sanford has denied Knotts' allegations.
“This letter is simply wrong – and
in that regard, as bizarre as many of the other claims and attacks of
recent weeks,” said Sanford spokesman Ben Fox. “Some have argued
this indeed points to an obsession with slandering anyone who tries
to change the 'good ol' boy' system of politics in Columbia.”
Knotts played a central role in drawing
national attention to Sanford's mysterious disappearance in June,
before it was known that he had left the country to be with his
Argentinian mistress, and in his letter urged lawmakers to impeach
“We cannot allow this type of
groundless, baseless, Internet slander against public officials to
continue to exist in our state. The Legislature now has the
opportunity to look into ending it once and for all. If we don't you
and your family could be the next target,” Knotts said.