December 3rd, 2009
06:41 PM ET
6 months ago

Legislators dismiss most ethics charges against Sanford

Sanford's legal team scored a victory on Thursday.
Sanford's legal team scored a victory on Thursday.

(CNN) – A special House panel considering an impeachment measure against South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford decided Thursday that their review will not include most of the state ethics charges filed against the governor last month.

South Carolina state lawmakers voted to throw out 28 of the 37 civil charges filed by the state Ethics Commission, most of which involved Sanford's purchase of business class tickets with taxpayer money and his use of campaign funds.

State House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Harrison, who is overseeing the special impeachment panel, said the ethics charges do not rise "to the level of serious misconduct or a serious offense" that would merit removing Sanford from office.

Harrison's subcommittee is still evaluating Sanford's use of state-owned aircraft along with the original impeachment resolution, which focuses on whether Sanford broke the law by secretly leaving the state in June to visit his mistress.

One of Sanford's attorneys, Ross Garber, applauded the decision.

"It is appropriate that the committee dismissed the bulk of the allegations against the Governor," Garber said in a statement released by the governor's office. "These allegations clearly did not rise to the level of serious crimes and serious misconduct in office required to justify impeachment of a governor for the first time in the history of South Carolina."

Harrison said the panel will meet again next Monday to decide whether to send an impeachment resolution on to the full Judiciary committee.

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, a Republican who is running to succeed Sanford next year, is still evaluating the Ethics Commission report to decide whether the state will pursue criminal charges.

UPDATE: Sanford's personal attorney Butch Bowers said he is "pleased" with the vote.

"This decision confirms that Governor Sanford has followed the letter and spirit of the law," Bowers said in a statement. "We look forward to resolving this matter quickly and showing, as the Committee's actions today demonstrate, that this administration has been a consistent ally of the taxpayer."


Filed under: Mark Sanford • Popular Posts • South Carolina
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. Jorge en Texas

    Just because they don't impeach him over things like misuse of taxpayer money for personal gain or commitment, does that mean he can't be held criminally accountable?

    December 3, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. sara

    Yep, it pays if "you're one and the same".

    December 3, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. Ian - Atlanta

    I have no problem that Mark Sanford had an affair or took off on a trip to Argentina. You know what? It's his life and he can manage it as he wants. He can also schedule and manage his personal time as he wants.

    What I do have a problem with, though, is the taxpayers financing his personal activities, as opposed to simply his state obligations.

    I have no problem supporting my leaders when they need to travel to do their jobs. But I'm not paying for what is, essentially, a vacation.

    This isn't a case of accidently buying a meal or airplane ticket which exceeds an expense policy or something. This is a case of clear, and intentional, missapproptiation of funds for personal gain. That's about as clear as ethical violations get.

    December 3, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. George

    Someone wondered why dems are blind when this kind of thing happens to them. Well, maybe because it doesn't happen to dems every month. It seems to me that the dems had the biggest cheating fish of all and the repugs were knocking each other over to get to a mic and spout some of their vitriol and hypocrisy. Many of them since have been caught with their britches down as well. This is why dems want to wring every bit of mileage out of repugs who get caught. I think it's called poetic justice.

    December 3, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  5. Lin McKay

    This whole circus in SC over removing Governor Sanford is a total waste of money. It is likely in the end he will not be removed, we will have spent money we do not have, we will have kept a negative headline going, we would have put our efforts on something really important, like unemployment challenges and the homeless. It is time to let the governor finish his term, back his bags and journey on back to Sullivan's Island or to the Sanford farm . . . we all need to let this go and move forward.

    December 3, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. Awaal Oastad

    This guy is a moron and the ones threw all the allegations are also morons.

    December 3, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  7. Carney, MA

    So using the taxpayer's money is standard operating procedures now? Wow, did they drop the main charge of Sanford using taxpayer dollars to go see his mistress? I guess that's the most important one.

    There must be something in the water down there. If I were a South Carolinian, I'd want the governor to pay back the money (he's a wealthy man), and use it for the school system. Isn't that the same state where the school walls shook every time a train went by? Unbelievable.

    December 3, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  8. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    "Question – Do politicians know the definition of ethics?"
    :)

    Is pretty funny because I was thinking the same thing. Just because the vote passed in his favor don't mean he is off the hook. Ethics is a big word, it can be define as many aspects, especially in the working place. Unethic claims are as serious as not realizing how a behavior and assesment can hurt you morally and psychologically.

    As for the Gov, they should just get over it. Move on, wasting all this time on a issue that's been hanging on their heads for many months now. If he broke any ethic violations, then just admit it and get on with it. I can name you one. He got off the job to go on vacation while on duty. That's one ethics violation.

    Don't make sound like you are seeing the full evidence and are trying to be aacurate in your evaluation. Heck, I can go crazy and accuse networks of breaking ethic violations as well. You can really turn it into a crazy theme, that's ethics.

    December 3, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  9. Orange Marmalade, NH

    If his wife doesn't want him, why should I? Kick this thief to the curb and get back the taxpayer's money while you're at it.

    December 3, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  10. Tom B

    And people wonder why we have face the problem of a lack of personal responsibility in America....

    December 3, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  11. Scott L.

    This smacks of Republicans protecting a Republican. You know if Sanford were a Democrat they would have impeached him months ago.

    December 3, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  12. proud dem in nc

    Another Rethuglican, moral crusading, family values hypocrite. He should be dumped ASAP. The guy leaves the State to visit the bimbo. Officials in SC had no idea where he was or how to reach him should an emergency have occured. People in SC are fools if they don't impeach this bum.

    December 3, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  13. Devans

    This is a disgrace and shows how the "good old boy" system continues to thrive in the midst of glaring issues of integrity. We might as well put pimps and dope pushers in halls of public service....at least they're not trying to hide the fact that they're crooks.

    December 3, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  14. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Sounds like the pot couldn't call the kettle black because they are all probably guilty of the same crimes.

    December 3, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  15. Sunny Guy, Champaign, IL

    >> He needs to join the democrat Mantra in Illinois. Then he can be president.

    And guess where the last REPUBLICAN governor of Illinois, a fellow named George Ryan, has been living since he left office? That's right, in the hoosegow. Both parties have their bad apples.

    Btw, Bush is the one who demonstrated that anyone can be president.

    Sunny Guy

    December 3, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  16. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Good 'ol South Caroling "christian" values on display and at the very top of the dung heap!

    December 3, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  17. Diana Greenville SC

    I hope he uses his time wisely. Before his term is up Govenor Sandford could go down in history as the politician that has the confederate flag removed from the capitol building grounds. I'm not sure if he can do that on his own but he should use the power granted to him to push for it. That would be a wonderful way to be remembered , not for his humiliating midlife crisis.

    December 3, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  18. Fed up

    I'm not from SC – but in Nevada we have a Republican governor and a Repulican senator here – both of whom championed "family values" while cheating on their wives, lying about it, breaking finance laws over it and getting away with it.

    Say and do anything and get away with it, just promise not to raise taxes and all will be well in the world. The neo cons and religious fanatics will believe anything as long as it is couched in "family values" and "right to life" buzz words – there doesn't seem to be anyone holding these guys to account for being the charlatans and liars that they are. It is the phoney righteous who are undermining the morals of this country, not gays or illegal immigrants.

    December 3, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  19. Adalbert

    As usual, the powerful always get a way with their crimes.

    December 3, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  20. They call me "tater salad"

    I need to get myself a job in South Carolina......You don't have to show up for work......Or call in.......Bang a fellow employee's wife on the side during company time.......Still get to keep your job.......And with any luck at all........They'll send me my paycheck in the mail every week and save me the trouble of having to go there and pick it up! Can't understand why everyone wouldn't want to live there......(end sarcasm here).

    December 3, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  21. mjm

    "It's impossible to charge someone in the republican party on ethics charges"

    He was charged. The most charges were dropped. That's clear in the 2nd paragraph.......Maybe you're ADD didn't let you get that far.

    How Rangel doing by the way? Any charges coming his way any time soon?

    December 3, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  22. Susan in NC

    Wouldn't be nearly as disgusting if he hadn't been such a "holier than thou", judgemental jerk before this happened. Welcome to South Carolina!

    December 3, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  23. Debbie

    I'm laughing at the people from South Carolina! They voted for these state lawmakers. They are suppose to be all about "family values" yet this guy can be doing his "soulmate" in Argentina and the people of South Carolina just say gee shucks! If the people of South Carolina are serious they need to get out and vote! And vote for peoples actions not their speeches or good ole boy politics.

    December 3, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  24. Virginia

    Of course, Sanford's attorney applauded the decision– DUH? I guess lying to everyone and completely misrepresenting oneself as a "family values" candidate while cheating on your wife and lying to your constituants doesn't qualify as "unethical." Interesting intepretation of "ethics" we have. . .

    December 3, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  25. Rbush

    South Carolina has become a national joke. It is hard to believe in anything an elected official tells you. The only defense not used is: "The devil made me do it."

    December 3, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
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