State Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, announced Tuesday he will drop out of the race for state superintendent of education and retire from the State House at the end of his term.
Patrick, whose financial troubles were revealed in court documents that detailed contentious divorce proceedings with his wife, cited ongoing family concerns as the reason for his decision to end the campaign.
"Running a statewide campaign would be a distraction from these personal matters," he said in a phone interview Tuesday. "My children don't deserve to go to school and get asked questions based on one-sided allegations against their father."
Patrick's decision comes two days after The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette published a story that looked into the politician's financial troubles, including his dealings with some people who felt that Patrick had burned them.
Court documents showed a legislator who spent more than he made, whose children receive support from government programs such as food stamps, and who has been living outside of his district.
Patrick also is named in a lawsuit that alleges he took for himself money that a relative intended to be used for a down payment on a home for Patrick and his wife, Amee. Patrick also "cheated (a former business partner) out of monies due," ultimately having to settle for about $35,000 to avoid a lawsuit, according to an affidavit from Amee Patrick and interviews with two people familiar with the situation.
On Tuesday, Andy Patrick called the allegations "false, misleading and out-of-context."
"This is a private matter that is playing itself out in public only because I'm a public official," he said.
Patrick said he made a promise to his daughter not to respond to such allegations "in the court of public opinion."
"For me to continue on in a statewide race, it would require me to say some things I have chosen not to say so I could keep the promise," he said. "I am going to court to defend myself against the claims being made, but I'm not doing it in the newspaper."
Patrick's lawyer, Norman D. Brannon, a fellow House of Representatives member from Spartanburg, has called claims in Amee Patrick's affidavit "crap."
Attempts on Tuesday to reach Brannon for comment were unsuccessful.
State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, said on Tuesday that he was saddened to hear the news of Patrick's decision to end his campaign.
"Personally, from what I've witnessed, Andy is a good guy," he said.
Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said he doesn't think Patrick's situation will affect the Beaufort County delegation in Columbia.
"Andy plans to continue to represent the people of Hilton Head Island for the remainder of his term," Davis said. "I don't see a drop in effectiveness."
Patrick, 44, has been a state representative since 2011.
He came to Hilton Head in 2006 while working for the U.S. Secret Service, where he was an agent for 10 years.
After leaving the Secret Service, he started a security company, Advance Point Global, which provides various security and auditing services.
A Dec. 13 declaration filed with the Family Court indicates Patrick stopped earning money from the company in April 2013. The statement also shows that his monthly expenses -- $3,489 -- exceed his monthly income of $1,866 from his position as a legislator.
His entrance into the race for state superintendent wasn't his first bid for higher office.
In 2013, he finished fifth out of 16 Republican primary candidates seeking the 1st Congressional District seat in March. Current U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford won the post.
The (Columbia) State contributed to this report. Follow reporter Dan Burley at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.