The South Carolina State House Judiciary Committee announced Friday that an ad hoc legislative committee will formally consider a resolution calling for the impeachment of disgraced Governor Mark Sanford next week.
The impeachment resolution charges the Governor with bringing “extreme dishonor and shame to the office of the governor of South Carolina and to the reputation of the state of South Carolina” when he took off to see his mistress in Argentina in June without notifying anyone where he was going. Under the South Carolina constitution, the Governor is the only state official with emergency powers, so the state was unable to act in case of emergency in his absence.
He’s also charged with “[directing] members of his staff in a manner that caused them to deceive and mislead the public officials” by telling them that the Governor was out of contact because he was hiking the Appalachian trail. Sanford’s spokesman acknowledged at the time that the Governor’s staff, who spread the hiking story, actually knew where the Governor really was. It’s not clear how Sanford can be charged with being unreachable when he’s also being charged with his staffers secretly knowing where he was, but I guess we’ll see next week.
The State Ethics Commission, whose members were appointed by the Governor, announced two days earlier that they also found probable cause to consider separate charges against Sanford for his dicey use of state and campaign funds for personal travel. Sanford, who has been blocking release of the ethics committee report, agreed Thursday to release the report to Republican House Speaker Robert W. Harrell Jr. Harrell was holding out for the release of the report, but Judiciary Committee Chair James H. Harrison, also a Republican, wasn’t willing to wait.
Ill-used First Lady Jenny Sanford, at least, feels secure enough about the immediate future to make plans. Mrs. Sanford said through a spokesman Wednesday that she planned to attend the annual Governor’s Mansion holiday open house on Dec. 3, presumably as hostess. Sanford’s spokesman isn’t sure what the Governor has planned that day. The Sanfords have been separated since Mrs. Sanford moved out with their 4 children in August.