S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford is censured, but won't be impeached
A panel of lawmakers voted to rebuke South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford for disgracing the office, but stopped short of impeachment. Sanford says he won’t resign, vowing to fill out his term through 2010.
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Addressing those who said the state should move onto other business, Mr. Rutherford said: “The impression is that we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, and somehow that if we take up impeachment people will lose jobs. We’re equipped to handle this in an efficient manner that suggests to taxpayers that this isn’t the good old boy club where all we do is take care of each other and whitewash stuff.”Skip to next paragraph
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Last week, a House subcommittee dropped the majority of more than 30 ethics charges against Sanford, most involving questionable use of the state airplane for political trips, including a birthday party – stinging charges against a politician who ran as a frugal conservative.
Impeachment voted down
Subsequent findings that Sanford also scheduled a business trip in 2008 to Argentina specifically to be with a lover became part of the censure proclamation passed unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee, which only minutes later had voted down an impeachment resolution by a vote of 18 to 6.
A majority of committee members said that, despite Sanford’s missteps, his behavior simply did not rise to the level of impeachment. They pointed to recent examples from other states, such as the impeachment of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for allegedly attempting to sell a US Senate seat.
On the other hand, Mr. Delleney testified that South Carolina’s constitution includes some of the broadest definitions of all states when it comes to when a governor can be impeached – a provision that dates back to its very first constitution as a founding colony.
But several lawmakers said polls and their own conversations with South Carolinians indicated a desire to move on from this topic and let Sanford serve out his term, which ends next year. Politically, many lawmakers also have concerns about allowing Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer to take over the reins of the state.
“A vote for censure is not an endorsement for the governor, quite the contrary,” said Mr. Smith. “This is a political decision that looks first and foremost at the interests of the people of South Carolina, where the governor has caused us far too much harm, and the impeachment process will continue that harm, and generate more harm than good.”
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis said Sanford has been “working hard” since this summer to make up for his mistake. And while he’ll likely not face an embarrassing removal from office, the affair has taken a toll on the governor. His wife, Jenny, filed for divorce last week.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Stanford did not address the censure vote.
“As we’ve consistently said, this administration has tried to be a stalwart ally of the taxpayer, and will remain so for the next 13 months,” he said.
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