McMaster: Sanford will not face charges from AG's office

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - SC governor Mark Sanford will not face criminal charges for use of planes, campaign cash that drew fines. The announcement was made Monday morning at Attorney General Henry McMaster's office.

According to McMaster, investigators felt Sanford's actions did not ride to the level of criminal acts.

"We believe Governor Sanford's improper conduct was appropriately addressed by the civil action taken by the State Ethics Commission, and by the political action taken by the General Assembly. However, the law requires a much higher standard before criminal prosecution is warranted," said McMaster in a statement Monday afternoon.

If he is to be punished, said McMaster, it will be done in civil court and by the South Carolina Legislature. The Attorney General's office will not pursue the matter further.

"This office considers the matter closed," said the release.

After the announcement, the governor issued a brief statement on the state attorney's ruling in which he thanked McMaster and the House Committee for their investigation.

[Read McMaster's full report on the Sanford investigation.]

"While I've acknowledged repeatedly my own moral failing in this matter, we feel confirmed in our consistent belief that this Administration has always been a stalwart defender of the taxpayer. SLED's findings, the House Committee's dismissal of 32 of 37 ethics allegations, and the Attorney General's decision today reaffirm this long-held belief," said Sanford in the release.

He also reiterated his decision to move beyond his "moral failings" and attempt to improve the state's economy. To make his point, he directed attention to the jobs created since December.

"South Carolina has added over 6,000 jobs just since December of 2009 for an average of 1,500 more people working per month, and in just the past half year I've had the pleasure of joining South Carolinians in welcoming three 1000 plus job announcements to our state," he said.

South Carolina has shown some signs of economic growth in the global recession, but unemployment is still one of the highest in the nation.

Sanford is spending part of the day in North Charleston at the announcement of the Boeing Company's expansion and then with the newly-confirmed Director General of Employment and Workforce to determine what steps the state can make to clean up the unemployment agency.

©2010 WCSC and WIS-TV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.