NPR logo S.C. House Panel Votes No On Sanford Impeachment; Censure Next?

S.C. House Panel Votes No On Sanford Impeachment; Censure Next?

A South Carolina legislative panel investigating the ethics, or lack of same, of Gov. Mark Sanford (R) has voted six to one against impeachment.

Adam Fogle of The Palmetto Scoop writes that the lawmakers "agreed that Sanford abused his power as governor in scheduling a 2008 trip to Argentina and misusing state aircraft." But only one member of the House judiciary subcommittee, state Rep. Greg Delleney (R), who introduced the impeachment resolution, "believed the actions rose to the level of impeachable offenses":

"He has lost all moral authority to lead this state," Delleney said. "He has lost all trust. He has lost all ability to lead this state."

The seven lawmakers voted unanimously to support a resolution censuring Sanford. Both the impeachment and censure bills now head to the full Judiciary Committee.

As for the 37 charges that were named against the governor last month in a state Ethics Commission report, all but five were struck, though one was added: his trip to Argentina, to see his mistress, which they said was "camouflaged" as a business trip.

All 25 members of the House Judiciary Committee will meet next Wednesday to take up the impeachment bill. Delleney said passage "will be difficult, but I'm not giving up."

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In the past 80 years, only two governors have been impeached: Evan Mecham (R-AZ) in 1988 and, earlier this year, Rod Blagojevich (D-IL). Both were removed from office.