(CNN) – A South Carolina Democrat told CNN on Thursday that Republican legislators have assured him there are enough votes to start a bipartisan push for impeachment against Gov. Mark Sanford when the legislative session begins in January.
Rep. Boyd Brown said ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee told him Wednesday that several Republicans on the committee are prepared to team up with Democrats to begin the impeachment process if Sanford doesn’t resign or agree to a full-scale investigation into his travel expenses before the end of the year.
At least one Republican on the Judiciary Committee contacted by CNN Thursday - Rep. Greg Delleney - said he would sign on to an impeachment effort.
The Republican chairman of the committee, Rep. Jim Harrison, said he has not yet had the chance to talk to committee members about where they stand on the matter. But he said the impeachment drumbeat could easily get louder.
“If things are going to continue to dribble out every week with new allegations of misuse of state property, it may reach the point of impeachment pretty quickly,” Harrison said.
Sanford’s travel has come under increased scrutiny since he disappeared from the country to visit his mistress in June.
In South Carolina, any one member of the House of Representatives can introduce a motion to impeach. But before being voted on by the full chamber, the motion would likely have to survive a vote by the House Judiciary Committee.
The GOP currently controls the committee by a 14-11 margin, meaning at least two Republicans would have to sign on to the motion before it can be sent to the floor - assuming every Democrat on the committee supports it.
Brown said ranking Republicans on the committee have told him: “We got your three votes.”
“The Republicans are on this as much as Democrats,” Brown said. “This thing’s going to get nasty come January if he doesn’t clear his name between now and then or resign.”
Brown met with Sanford privately for about 30 minutes on Thursday morning to discuss economic-development issues. During that meeting, Brown said he told the governor he should ask for a grand jury investigation into his use of state finances to clear his name. If not, he told Sanford, Republicans and Democrats in the House are prepared to impeach him.
“He didn’t like the sound of that,” Brown said, “but he understood that would be an option.”
The power of impeachment in South Carolina, according to the state constitution, is reserved for “cases of serious crimes or serious misconduct in office.” Impeachment requires a two-thirds vote in the House followed by a two thirds vote in the Senate.
State Sen. David Thomas, the Republican chairman of a Senate subcommittee investigating the governor’s travels, said earlier this week that Sanford should be impeached for flying in business class and first class when traveling overseas on two flights in 2006 and 2007.
On Thursday, South Carolina’s Attorney General Henry McMaster asked the state Ethics Commission to examine whether Sanford violated state ethics law by using state aircraft for personal and political purposes. That allegation was made in an Associated Press report over the weekend.
Republican Senate Pro Tempore also said Thursday that the Ethics Commission or the House of Representatives should investigate Sanford’s travel.
A spokesman for the governor, Ben Fox, promised to fully cooperate with “whatever the Ethics Commission decides to do.” Fox said he would not comment on impeachment efforts or questions about the governor’s travel until the Ethics Commission makes a determination on how it will proceed.
UPDATE: South Carolina House GOP leaders said Thursday that they support McMaster's call for the Ethics Commission to investigate Sanford's travel expenses.
House speaker Bobby Harrell, who has been mostly silent throughout the Sanford saga, released a statement saying that "real tangible evidence has come to light that suggests that several serious ethical - and possibly illegal - acts may have been committed" by the governor.
Harrell said that "instead of multiple separate investigations taking place," the Ethics Commission should conduct a full investigation before the House of Representatives decides how to proceed on matters like impeachment.
House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham also said he supports McMaster's decision. "And it is very important for all the facts to be on the table," he said in a statement. "No one is above the law.”
Why does he have to be so ignorant. Why don't he just simply step down and fade away. I'm sure it would suit his wife just fine. How humilated she must feel and it isn't even her fault. He will pay in the long run.
what has taken so long, the man clearly violated the laws made by man, not to mention GOD, justice should have be swift and severe, we talk about the boys in the ghettos of America
This is just a smoke screen, the crooked politician of South Carolina are untouchable, they protect their own.
this goes on everyday...its only news when they are caught
But Mark Sanfor is a GREAT man. All he did was cheat on his wife, abandon his children and fraud his state and go AWOL.
Nothing wrong with that! It's how our Republicans are EXPECTED to act by golly! I mean, if we start impeaching every bad politician there is, we won't have any republicans to drag our country down left in office. That's just not right...we are SUPPOSED to be allowed to lie, cheat, swindle, and get away with it.
Mark Sanford is my Hero. He cheated his state and any one that is going after him for cheating his state obviously has alterior motives. Who cares if the charges are true, let's pretend it's for some other reason!
Sanford is a spineless bottomfeeder. He knows that he wants to quit anyhow to be with his little piece on the side but he too much a coward to quit.
Sanford would rather waste the taxpayers money with a lengthy impeachment process instead of admitting that he is slime and just quit. Repugs are funny people.
Impeach him. If his own wife can't trust him, then no one can. It's pretty basic logic.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
Sanford resigned the day he got on that plane. But this is South Carolina, they still fly the Confederate Flag, he is pro-life, anti-gay, probably Southern Baptist, who knows, he could be governor for life.
Leave him alone, I am a democratic, but we all make mistake, and who know how his wife stress him that he have to fly to another country to take the stress out.
What is the GOP waiting for? Another scandal to come out before they do something? So much time is being spent dealing with this mess of a Governor and not enough time on improving the state of South Carolina. SC is one of the poorest states in the country, with low performing schools and high unemployment. Enough with this drama, impeach the guy and get on with the business of running the state!
When you steal time and money from your family, you'll be sure to do it to those who are not family.
It's about time they stopped pretending to be moral and ethical and actually did something about it. One of the reasons the Republican Party is in such dire straits (there are many reasons, but this is a big one) is because they thump bibles, point accusing fingers at anyone not as "moral" as they are, and then run around with other women, play footsie in restrooms, and basically ignore the morals they spout. Perhaps if they started acting like moral adults with ethics, they would be such a laughing stock.
Impeach Sanford for dereliction of duty and misuse of state funds. Investigate the abuses of power and then remove the egostic megalomaniac from office !
Any Republican who actually believes what they say they do should be SCREAMING for his impeachment!
The South Carolina legislature should begin impeachment proceedings in earnest against Mark Sanford charging him with dereliction of duty, misuse of public property and tax payer funds. These charges constitute serious misconduct and warrant removal from public office.
If Governor Sanford had the ethics he was so quick to proclaim earlier in his career, then he would have done the right thing to begin with and kept his pistol in his pocket. Failing that particular test, he then had the opportunity to step down with some portion of his dignity intact. WELL, swing and a miss, again. Then the book deal..... I suspect things will get "nasty" somewhere around January.
Leave the guy alone. He has suffered enough. .....Not to say some of the Democrats would also share same bad boy things.
It amazes me how these politicians think they can be even the slightest bit effective in their governing when these types of scandals break out. Blagojevich refused to back down and was impeached and I suspect Sanford will meet the same fate.
These politicians are nothing but self-serving arrogant losers.
How can someone who said that President Clinton should resign after his affair, cling to power after his own affair?
Is he THAT OBLIVIOUS to think that Americans don't see the double standard?
Yep the Grand Ole Party who was embarassed by the title tried to change it to RNC and now the RATpublicans are embarassed by this Nut Sanford and want to make him hush hush!
am i mising something? didn't he leave the country unannounced, and not pass power? how about THAT for an ethics charge?
this is fun to watch, isn't it? reality tv has always been good, but i think i prefer TOP CHEF to TOP LUNATIC.
As a South Carolinian, I really wish this selfish guy would be impeached. He is hurting the state but his ego is too big to allow him to step down.
Get out hypocrite!! Do as I say not as I do does not work!!
Dereliction of duty, personal use of taxpayer-funded travel resources, dishonesty, weird behavior in public. This governor must go.