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. sally

    This is a witch hunt by the good ole boys that Sanford pissed off by not following their party line. The Gov. has no power anyway in this state, this just gives the legislature another excuse to do nothing as usual about any meaningful legislation. And if you think Sanford is bad, Andre (Lt. Gov) is even worse. Lets get the legislature to focus on jobs, education and health care, all topics that South Carolina is pretty close to being last in the country. If the people of SC really wanted Sanford out, there would be an out cry for his resignation by the people and not just a few political headline grabbers.

    August 13, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. Greg, PA

    I can certainly sympathize – it's probably the only way to get the man to shut up. If he could take his head out of his rear end long enough to realize that the world doesn't revolve around him, he might have noticed that this story would blow over if only he'd let it.

    The only reason we care about it is because he is a hypocrite. I don't care if he's unfaithful as long as he does his job. Does it make him a bad person? Sure. Does it make him a hypocrite? Absolutely. Does it interfere with his ability to perform his job? Well that's the only question that matters.

    August 13, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Moderate Democrat

    He needs to be booted out of the COUNTRY! Let him go down and play with the illegal immigrants he adores!

    August 13, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. jack

    I say Mark, stay in office. You haven't done anything that those who are yelling for your scalp haven't done in the past. Just look around at all of the other cheating Republicans. Yes, pay for using the Gov.'s private plane for taking family vacations(this should be used ONLY for government business, after all it is MY(our) tax dollars being spent.

    But just having some sex (strange included)should not be the reason for your being turned out of office. If more "christian" (read:sexless) women wanted to keep their man they should start preforming where it counts the most, and that is not on some wooden bench Sundays and Wednesdays. I say "Get Some!" Mark.

    August 13, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Dave

    Impeach them all. Like the unions they had there place once but it became about the money and the perks not about the people!

    August 13, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. Hayden

    I have the same answer for a Democrat and a Republican who is accused of misuse of office, resign or be impeached. I could care less about party. When you do wrong you do wrong regardless of the label behind your name...

    August 13, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. Mike

    Democrats are asking for this guys resignation too. Where were they when Clinton did much worse? Oh yeah they were saying it was none of our business.
    Need I say more?

    August 13, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. Jerome

    Seriously? Why can't they just let it go. The man cheated, big deal. That's a personal issue in this private life. If he's a good governor, let him keep his job.

    August 13, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. HydeParker

    The issue here has nothing to do with whether Sanford was unfaithful to his wife. You cannot impeach someone for that; thats just stupid. Half of congress will have to be removed if that were the case. Yes, its an immoral act and he will be punished for that.

    The impeachment should be based on the fact that he lied to the public about this affair and probably wasted taxpayer money.

    August 13, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. Republicans are the American Taliban

    If nothing has been done by now then it has to be assumed that the people of South Carolina want this loser to represent them.....sad.

    August 13, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  11. Common Sense

    I wish we could all look at this as a person that has made some bad choices. Whether he is Republican or Democrat, the decisions were bad and not caused by his affiliation with either party. As long as we continue to consider the party as the cause of bad judgements; we will continue to be partisan good ideas will die due to partisanship. Let's stop labeling people as good or bad, Republican or Democrat and recognize that it is just bad judgement or decisions that individuals are making.

    August 13, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. Dan W

    How can you compare what Stanford did with what Clinton did? It has nothing to do with his lack of restraint and losing control with a beautiful woman. It has everything to do with using taxpayer dollars to achieve that satisfaction. And that is why he needs to go. He violated the trust the public has that he will spend our hard earned tax dollars for our best interest (and not just his own).

    August 13, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. I Can See Argentina from my Front Porch

    And for those of you that are screaming about Clinton –
    I don't recall Clinton's name being mentioned in this article.
    And you people had your chance to speak out when Clinton was under investigation for his affairs.
    This article is about Mark Sanford and his abusing the system by misappropriating govenment funds and vehicles and being AWOL from the job. Which all this sounds like more than enough reasons to have a full investigation and possible impeachment.
    And if the people of SC vote in another bad politician to lead them after Sanford is given the boot, that is their problem.

    August 13, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. If he's a good governor, let him keep his job?

    has anyone argued he is a good gov.?

    I wish someone would write about what he did that was positive, I have not read up on him and so only know the amusing rubbish I read here.

    As a democrat, I know the dems are equally guilty of all kinds of misconduct.

    My thought is: he took off on the job to another country, no one, including his own staff knew where he was, he is irresponsible.

    Now: what should be done? He seems to have made himself as non productive as Clinton was as Starr pursued him. Clinton could not be heard from his last months in office. Sanford has nothing to say except about how lonely it is in the mansion.

    He seems not to be able to function.

    August 13, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. willie

    its better for the dems if he stay..

    August 13, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  16. Robin in SC

    I live in SC and I couldn't care less who Mark Sanford sleeps with. What I DO care about is whether or not my governor, paid by my tax dollars, is in his office when he should be or at least accessible in case of an emergency. Another thing I DO care about is being sure my tax dollars are spent wisely and not on first class flights and trysts. If Sanford had any kind of self-respect and self-control, he would still be matched with Palin for the 2012 Presidential ticket by the rightwingnuts and no one would know about his Argentine "friend." Its NOT the adultery...its the way he did it. I'd rather know he played with cigars in the Governor's Mansion

    August 13, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |

    One Word, INTEGRITY. Sanford has NONE.

    August 13, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. bozo the obama

    i want the person screwing America out, OBAMA

    August 13, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  19. jon

    Politicians really have to stop firing each other based on personal peccadillos. If there is a breach of the law, fine but this constant barrage of "holier than though" judgements really do nothing but exentuate the hypocrisy of the lot of them. Let the voters decide in the next election.

    August 13, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  20. Emerson

    I think the impeachment is about the misuse of funds as well. But we as a people put our elected officials, athletes, etc on a pedastal. That's why the infidelity is such a big deal. South Carolina has no business dealings with other countries and he wasn't on vacation with family. He should be impeached. I'm surprised it's taken this long and it could still possibly last until January. Shocking. The wheels of justice turn too slow in this country.

    August 13, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. bob in LA

    I hope they can find a law that was broken before they actually file for impeachment. And if they do, I hope they baord up their windows befre they throw that first rock.

    August 13, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  22. joeb

    Hey follks, IT AIN'T ABOUT THE SEX! Read the article!

    August 13, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  23. Phil Muse

    So many virulent, spiteful comments! How about a little Christian charity and compassion from people who consider themselves Christians? I'm a life-long Democrat, and I don't hate Governor Sanford like some of his fellow Republicans obviously do. He has always struck me as a genuinely unhappy man. I won't speculate about his marriage, but he has been in genuine mourning for the loss of conservative social values in this country where other Repubs just cynically tout them for their own political advantage. He has the character to be ashamed of his own unfortunate actions where other political figures in similar disgrace (I won't name names) have attempted to brazen it out and cry that the allegations against them were "politically motivated." Give him credit for that, and also give him the time and privacy to work out his problems.

    August 13, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. Get Real

    All these people posting that Dems are hypocrites because some of them (yes just some) did not call for Bill Clinton's resignation...please try to comprehend this:

    -Clinton WAS impeached for lying under oath and then acquitted....

    -NO ONE is calling for Sanford to resign for his affair (though Sanford himself called for Clinton to resign because of his affair). They are calling for him to resign for disappearing from his state for 5 days, for abusing the expense system in his state....NOT the affair....

    The only hypocrite here is Sanford....

    August 13, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  25. Merle

    We are ousting this man because his marriage fell apart? This country is becoming an embarrassment. Be they Democrat, Republican, Third-party, or indepentdant a person should be ousted only on their ability to do the job or not.

    August 13, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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