August 13th, 2009
06:17 PM ET
9 years ago

First on the Ticker: GOP support for Sanford impeachment grows

CNN has learned that Republican support is growing for a possible effort to impeach Mark Sanford, South Carolina's Republican governor.

CNN has learned that Republican support is growing for a possible effort to impeach Mark Sanford, South Carolina's Republican governor.

(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.”

Filed under: Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Thomas5

    As a resident of South Carolina and a lifelong conservative (with libertarian leanings), I feel that Sanford should definitely be impeached. And if criminal charges can be brought against him, they should be.

    August 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. S Callahan

    It's not the healthy who need a docotr, but the sick. Ihave come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (read a Bible Luke 5)

    Careful fellows, you will be judge by your measure...

    August 13, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    How unfortunate for any political party to be reduced to this kind of dribble . . .

    Looks as if the mighty GOPers and their overweighted ego's are finally getting their just desserts.

    Can't say I'm suprised.

    August 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Dave

    He'll soon have ample time to thru hike the Appalachian Trail.

    August 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. Loulou

    It's getting more and more ridiculous, and it is out of vengeance more than anything else. Look around the country, I'm sure there are elected officials from both parties currently "misused" taxpayers' dollars. And don't we have more important issues to work on? Those who are calling for impeachment or investigation, look at yourself and the situation carefully before you judge others.
    Let's stop being hypocrite, shall we?

    August 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. windrider

    This guy doesn't have the sense God gave a goose. He should have shut up, sat down, resigned and headed back to Argentina to be with his soul mate. Instead, he hunkers down and holds press conferences where he continues to dine on a menu of foot-in-mouth. He's probably stupid enough to make his own party impeach and remove him from power.

    August 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. Doc

    We live in a world of idiots if this man can neglect his duties as Govenor for an entire week (at the least) with no one knowing where he went. No one, including his staff whom tried unsuccessfully several times to inform the public of his wereabouts. Him cheating on his wife wasn' t the issue (which i find very sad, since these guys run on that whole family man image) it was him abandoning his post to go run-up his mistress from another country. And when he gets back he cries a little and tells the folks who he represent that he is sorry for what he's done but he's not going to resign. Wow, Wow!
    Let me use the company card (with a firm i'm contracting with) to hook up with my side-piece in another country while they try to contact me numerous times; and when i get back tell them "yeah i had to hook up with my girl sorry i didn't let you know but i'm okay. By the way i'm still set to leave when my contract says, and no sooner."

    August 13, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  8. Melissa

    I can't believe I agree with Republicans on anything, but its about time. This should have been done a long time ago. Its time to cut out he corruption from this government. Its poisoning the whole.

    August 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. Nancy

    I'm a conservative and I think Sanford should save face and just go ahead and resign. He screwed up and he knows it. He should be a man and resign for the good of the state, the country and the republican party. It's not about him. It's about what's right.

    August 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. Marilyn Caudell

    I see a problem here. There were no allegations of misuse of state properties until the governor received bad press because of his affair with the South American woman. If there had been misuse, why wasn't it brought to light earlier? Isn't this just a knee jerk reaction to bad personal behavior by the governor? How many of you judging him are not guilty of the same or similar behavior?

    August 13, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  11. Pat in IL

    Sanford is not holding himself accountable for his mistakes (which are many). If he did, he would resign now, and not drag this out, spending the tax payer's money and distracting the politicans from doing their jobs for the state. He is showing the epitomy of arrogance and entitlement.

    August 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Adam from Ohio

    "...Sanford should be impeached for flying in business class and first class when traveling overseas on two flights in 2006 and 2007."

    Now, come on. There are certainly reasons that Sanford should no longer be in office, but upgrading from coach is not one of them. Come on ... he's the governor. Let him have some legroom.

    August 13, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. atlanta crop

    Isnt there anything else to report on the ticker besides Sanford and Palin. Sanford is a SC figure, I live in GA, who cares. Let the people of SC deal with this issue.Whats going on in healthcare, Afgan, Iraq, the unemployed, and the recesion. Its time to get back to reporting the issues.

    August 13, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  14. Claudia in Houson

    Sanford exposed other officials for their outrageous travel expenses and now the Republicans see him as a threat. They could have avoided all of this when he left the country to see his mistress, now they have a mess on their hands. Sanford will expose everyone when they attempt to bring him down. The pot is boiling.

    August 13, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  15. Pay back the money

    It was wrong to use state money, but Have you seen this women. She is stunning and that is putting it mildly. Young and sooo sexy can cloud anyones judgement.

    August 13, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. Jewel - Anderson SC

    Impeachment for going AWOL and no one knew where he less about his mistress (that's between him and his wife) as long as he didn't use our tax money for his rendezvous

    August 13, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. Cece

    This is just too funny. The way Mark Sanford judged and critqued President Clinton has really come back to haunt him. I guess pay backs really do come true. Sanford really ought to resign, but he thinks above that. Moron.

    August 13, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. Kellie

    Hey, where's his loyal soul mate? ha!

    August 13, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. CincoDeMayo

    The governor can't move up to Business Class? That is pretty cheap.

    August 13, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Zaley

    Poor ole Mark paid a high price for something he probably never really wanted in the first place. Ruination.

    August 13, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. Paul

    Who cares what goes on in South Carolina if you don't live there.

    August 13, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  22. Allie

    Hey, he had fun while it lasted!! Until he got caught.

    August 13, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. Jill

    Sanford should resign and spare tje embarassment to his grown kids. This has to be hard for the kids and harder for Sanford who loves his mistress. We are waiting so see if he brings her to the mansion.

    August 13, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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