(CNN) – South Carolina's lieutenant governor on Wednesday accused Gov. Mark Sanford of "serious misconduct" in office and said the time has come for the embattled governor to resign.
Andre Bauer is the highest-ranking official so far to call on Sanford to step down. He said he tried to remain supportive of the governor after he admitted to an extramarital affair in June, but subsequent investigations into Sanford's foreign and domestic travel expenses have become too much of a distraction for the state.
Several GOP lawmakers have said that Sanford, also a Republican, violated South Carolina law by paying for pricey seats on international flights and using state aircraft for personal and political purposes.
"Regrettably, we have reached a point where we must all put the interests of the people of South Carolina first," Bauer said at a news conference inside the state house in Columbia. "It is my opinion that the best interests of the people of South Carolina can no longer be served by the current administration."
Sanford has scheduled a news conference for 3:30 p.m. ET to respond to Bauer's comments.
If Sanford does resign, Bauer would become governor for the remainder of Sanford's term, which expires in January 2011.
But the lieutenant governor, who was elected separately from Sanford and is not a political ally of the governor, offered Sanford a deal: If the governor resigns and Bauer takes office, he said he will put aside his own political ambitions and not move forward with the 2010 gubernatorial bid he has long been planning.
Bauer's rivals for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination have been uncomfortable with the prospect of Bauer assuming the top office and running as an incumbent in next year's GOP primary. Bauer and his team have accused rival Republican candidates and their political allies in the legislature of dragging their feet on the Sanford issue, in order to prevent Bauer from being promoted to the governorship.
"If taking me out of the governor's race makes this happen and we move forward quickly, then yes, I am willing to forgo the opportunity I may have to be governor for the next four to eight years," he said, describing his proposal as "selfless.
However, Bauer said his deal - which he first revealed to CNN in June - would only be on the table for the next month. If Sanford does not resign in the coming weeks, Bauer said, he will move forward with his plans to run for governor, even if Sanford is impeached and removed from office.
Investigations into the governor's travel expenses revealed that he spent thousands of dollars on business and first-class airline tickets for overseas flights, and used state aircraft for personal and political travel. Those probes were prompted by Sanford's disclosure in June that he had an affair with an Argentine woman.
Bauer called on the state legislature to take action on Sanford before the end of the year if he does not step down. Lawmakers will not be able to take formal action until the legislature re-convenes in January, unless a special session is called before then.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee have told CNN there are enough votes on the committee to send an impeachment motion to the floor of the House.
House Republicans are meeting this weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for their annual retreat, and the impeachment matter is likely to dominate the agenda, according to those planning to attend.
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.
On Tuesday, Rep. Nathan Ballentine - a Sanford ally in the legislature - met with the governor privately and warned him that unless he steps down, House Republicans are likely to impeach him. Sanford rejected his plea.
"Barring some swing of momentum in his favor, I told him the writing is on the wall," Ballentine told CNN.
Sanford has said he and his family were working on healing after his admission about the affair. His wife, Jenny, and the couple's four sons recently moved out of the governor's mansion and back to their private home in Charleston for the beginning of the school year.
Sanford should go. Impeach him!
It is noted that Bauer said, "Regrettably, we have reached a point where we must all put the interests of the people of South Carolina first."
Isn't that what you are voted into office to do?
Sanford is fighting back! this is a great soap opera.
The scandel, the call for resignation and now the fight back.
The healthcare reform storm and now the backlash against the dems.
The senator who kills his girlfriend and comes back to be one of the most respected in recent history, now dead.
The CIA overexuberant to keep us safe, now a politically motivated investigation to provide cover for a tattered white house.
Housing bubbles with congressman getting special loans to look the other way while the economy is crumbling.
I don't think that I've seen a more dramatic soap opera in all of television. Kinda fun to watch the news these days.
""Regrettably, we have reached a point where we must all put the interests of the people of South Carolina first."
No, Lt. Gov. Bauer, that's the problem. The intrerests of the governed should ALWAYS come first, not just when corruption is exposed, not just when you get caught.
There used to be something in American politics called "the public servant." Sadly, now we have the Cheneys, the Blagos, the Palins, the Sanfords and their ilk who use government for personal agrandisement, ideological dominance and financial gain.
Your Public! The public pay your wages. If your Dirty. Your Dirty and you pay the price. But you all hide behind others. Especially the media.
They know how to twist things, to stay in business. Even CNN.
This is not about conservatives v. liberals. It's about a politician who misused taxpayers money for personal benefit. The fact that he is an admitted adulterer is merely a disgusting and all too common sidebar, made particularly more interesting because he's one of the do as I say not as I do family values guys. He didn't lie like Clinton did? Well, that's semantics. He only lied to his staff and all of his constituents...so I really don't get where the "not lying" part comes in. When is a lie not really a lie? Finally, I like the reality show concept, we could use a little humor, and then you'd only have to watch them if you really wanted to.
wow, look who finally grew some
Sanford thinks pretty highly of himself, that's for sure. Heck, he has a wife AND a soulmate and at this rate, he'll get to keep them both and still be the Governor. SC voters are numb, folks.
I believe any politician who is found having affairs of morally being in a more than questionalbe situation should be forced to step down..or be taken down. If these individuals can break the trust they took to an oath to stay true to one person, how can we expect them to hold a trust to people they dont even know. Which in fact, this man broke both trusts. Cheating on his wife and spending funds for personal use that were for the people.My parents overlooked it with the Kennedy's, my generation overlooked it with Clinton..(who, to the best of my knowledge, didnt abuse the peoples financial trust), and now we have all these other public servents who have affairs, and try to overlook the moral obligation they should represent as a public servent. If these people can break the trust and committment to their spouses people, they sure as heck can break it to others they dont even know. Maybe it is time to make them sign a moral obligation oath, one that wont be questioned when they are caught with their pants down!
It looks like 'the family' at 133 C Street has decided he has sinned too much – or, more likely, that he's become too much of a liability. They don't see him getting elected again. So they've thrown him under the bus. Personally, I have no interest in SC, so it doesn't really matter that much to me.
The problem isn't that he cheated on his wife – nobody cares about that. It's that he spent taxpayer money to do it. Bill and Ted did not do that.
"South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said he won't seek the governor's office in 2010 is Sanford resigns in the next month."
Yeah, he'll just seek a different political office like Congressman or Senator, then maybe come back to run for Governor when he's older.
Serious misconduct? They have to be kidding. How can it be misconduct when its with your soulmate?
"Regrettably, we have reached a point where we must all put the interests of the people of South Carolina first," Bauer said.
It is regrettable for the interests of the people to come first for an elected official? I sure hope Bauer runs for office in California next, he'll fit right in!
Don’t compare John Edwards with Sanford
When John Edwards’s story broke he was not a senator
But Sanford is Governor now
So please don’t blame CNN ,
CNN is independent not Like FOX or MSNBC
The governor during his news conference in response to the lt governors request stated that he was staying. The South Carolina Senate should up the ante and start impeachment proceedings. Let all his hippocritial dirty laundry be dragged out in public for everyone to see and critique. He is an egotist if you ask me. He is trying to hold on to the governorship by any means necessary rationalizing his conduct. He is not going to go willingly; he has to be pushed.
People keep saying they "know of no crime commited"! Did you read the flipping column? And yes he lied, every time he went somewhere to meet up with her he lied to his staff and the state! What if there had been a national emergency while he was off lollygagging in Argentina! Come on people, step out of the 19th century and into the 21st! Elitism and executive privilege shouldn't be something you flaunt at tax payers expense. Don't think for a second that he didn't lie about his relationship, just because he wasn't under oath while doing it doesn't make it less of a crime. President Clinton was framed and settup and thought he could fly under the radar, but it didn't work out that way. I hope and pray that comments by bloggers on CNN only represent .05 percent of the seemingly mindless population of America.
Sanford should step down. He has disgraced the office.
CNN, how about an update on Edwards?
politics. don't you love it?
PLEASE someone make Sanford go away. How stupid can you be to think that jetting off to meet your Argentian soulmate could be kept private??!! Between him and Edwards, we're got a great miniseries in the works here.
"At least he did not lie like Clinton did."
What????? What do you call telling his aids and the whole state, for that matter, that he was off hiking the App. Trail when he was in Argentina with the (gag me) love of his life??? Is that somehow NOT a lie in your universe???
Laws were broken, period.
Misappropriation of Tax Payers Money, which is a form of Fraud..that's actually a felony. You republicans really are pretty uninformed, aren't you?
Keep living in your fantasy land, and in denial. It served us well for the previous 8 years (NOT).
Weren't you republicans on the other thread in regards to a change that would allow Kennedy's successor to be appointed by the Governor? And weren't you indicating how we need to follow the laws in this land?
How's that investigation about laws being broken in the pursuit of all out torture? Oh yea, that one was the one your kind said it was "Patriotic" to break the laws of this land.
You republican retards sure do seem to change your point of view alot. How convenient that must be.
Sanford's really shameless and clueless. At least Chip Pickering resigned when he knew he was going to get caught on his extramarital affair.
What rose colored glasses does Mark Sanford use to see his reality???? Mark, put yourself out of your misery and resign. Leave office and either learn spanish and become a citizen of Argentina....(I won't cry for you) OR man up and be a father and a husband once again to your family.
Wonder if we will see a dem. as govener next election.Bauer himself took him a lil holiday from office without notice and almost killed himself in a ultra-light accedent a few years back.also few write off tickets for speeding.So kinda like the pot calling the kettle black don't you think?both thies guys full on self interest only and not for the people of SC.