Those civil charges were revealed Monday by the South Carolina Ethics Commission, which had conducted a three-month investigation into Sanford's use of state finances. The governor and his legal team now face a hearing before the Ethics Commission to determine if Sanford broke any state laws by charging the state for first- and business-class flights, using state-owned aircraft for political travel and tapping into campaign funds for personal use.
The lawmakers, members of a special subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee that met for the first time Tuesday, decided to include the ethics charges in their review and scheduled four more meetings of the subcommittee for December.
The group will review the Ethics Commission report over Thanksgiving and decide if the charges should be included in the impeachment resolution, which accuses Sanford of "serious misconduct" for leaving the state in June to visit his Argentine mistress without leaving in place a chain of command.
The seven lawmakers - four Republicans and three Democrats - listened to sworn affadavits from key players in the scandal and entered into the record news reports from June highlighting Sanford's absence from the state.
Rep. Greg Delleney, one of the Republicans who drafted the impeachment measure, appeared to warn Sanford against fighting an impeachment effort, should the subcommittee decide to move forward.
"Impeachment is a political process, it's not a legal process," Delleney said at the meeting, which was attended by Sanford's attorneys. "There is no appeal from an impeachment process. Impeachment is final. Impeachment is solely the constitutional power, duty and responsibility of the South Carolina House of Representatives."
Delleney said governors can be impeached regardless of whether a crime was committed.
Ross Garber, one of Sanford's attorneys, called the impeachment hearing "an extraordinary and extremely rare process. In a statement released after the meeting, Garber said that the governor's "temporary absence from the state in June" does not merit his removal from office.
"As was pointed out in the hearing this afternoon, the state Constitution ensures that the chain of command in state government is not threatened because the Lt. Governor is automatically transferred command in the event of an emergency during the governor's temporary absence," Garber said.