August 26th, 2009
04:56 PM ET
13 years ago

South Carolina Lt. Gov. asks Sanford to step down

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said he won't seek the governor's office in 2010 is Sanford resigns in the next month."](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.

Filed under: Andre Bauer • Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Allen from Texas

    "selfless" has no meaning when one attributes it to oneself.

    August 26, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. Dave Wyman

    Another case of the GOP on a local level eating its own.

    August 26, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Sharon

    How the Republicans stand on the high ground and voice to everyone who will listen about their moral bearings. All of them are hypocrites and just like sharks. They smell the blood in the water and are going in for the kill!

    August 26, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. Simon Cabron

    Putting the best interests of the people from your state first is regrettable?

    August 26, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. Voice of reason

    The Lt. Gov is crooked too.

    August 26, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. Judy Ann

    Step down Sanford and let the State of South Carolina remain peaceful and able to repair the damage you have done.

    August 26, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. I can see Canada from my house!

    Why is this taking so long? Spitzer quit inside of a week.

    August 26, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    hahahahahahaha....translation: "please get out of my way, it's my turn to be governor"

    August 26, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. Jane/Seattle

    My view is that we must have leaders of impeccable integrity/ethics. The ability of corporations to buy and sell legislators is a high crime. These elected officials who are unable to control their urges need to resign or be impeached. Now, we need to have comprehensive election funding reform to stop them from being bought. If this is not possible with the present DC crew, we the voters need to get all of them out in our next election. This goes for both parties. Resign Sanford, it is your dreadful behavior which has put you in this place. Also, go get some counseling for you sexual addictions and proclivities and don't forget to let your wife know what a jerk you are.

    August 26, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. trippingchaos

    "Selfish," on the other hand, has a new synonym: Mark Sanford. Does this narcissic hypocrite care who he hurts, ever?

    August 26, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. KEL

    This case is just too funny for words

    August 26, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  12. Lynne

    CNN gives people like Sanford and Palin top billing on their blogs day after day and will use Senator's Kennedy's death to gain viewers. The least you could do is give his passing the top of the blog for a day.

    August 26, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  13. I Can See Argentina from my Front Porch

    Mark Sanford – go AWAY!!

    August 26, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. GI Joe

    He won't step down – he is a member of the C-Street Family that believes God appointed him and his fellow republican female chasers as OWNERS and dictators to to the little people.

    SC – get rid of this bigot !

    August 26, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  15. AstroTurf This

    On and on...CNN is obssessed with this. Amazing how John Edwards can diss his cancer-stricken wife, lie to the people over and over, father a child and lie even more, and doesn't even get a headline at all. And he could have been president. Oh that's right...if it is a liberal it doesn't count. That's the DNC logic.

    August 26, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. Ben

    He hasn't been impeached yet? What are we waiting for?
    Get thee out!

    August 26, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. Tommy

    Family values. HAH!

    If the conservatives want to be taken seriously, then quit electing hypocrites (Sanford, Vitter, Ensign, Craig, Foley, the list goes on and on...)

    Aim high!

    August 26, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  18. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)

    The people of South Carolina and their leaders have been patient and polite enough with this guy.

    He's obviously as shameless as his is unprincipled.

    It's time to stop asking him to go and to get on with throwing him out.

    On a lighter note, maybe Sanford can join Palin and Blago for a new Three's Company sitcom. The three of them can play hypocritical politicians who couldn't finish out their terms in office and got an apartment together from which they tweet their uninteresting and unhelpful opinions about current events. It'd be a lol riot.

    August 26, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. John

    There's blood in the water and the sharks are circling.

    Great timing though. This all gets burried by Ted Kennedy's death.

    August 26, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. Alfred E. Neumann

    Gov Sanford, when they ask you to resign – tell where to go and what they can do when they get there.

    The audacity to seek the removal of a sitting governor elected by the people.

    I know of no crime that you have committed.

    Hang in there!

    August 26, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. Rose

    I don't think it is up to the Lt. Gov. I believe the people of S.C. should voice their opinions. I don't see a serious "crime" or a serious misconduct. Look what Bill Clinton got away with in the "Peoples House" Personally I hope he hangs in there, if he is not re-elected then the people have spoken. At least he did not lie like Clinton did.

    August 26, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. pv

    goodbye, Mr. Sanford.

    you were full of it.

    August 26, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. Luke

    "Regrettably, we have reached a point where we must all put the interests of the people of South Carolina first". This quote is great. Somehow this man believes it is "regrettable" that they are at a point where they must all put the interests of the people of South Carolina first. What was it originally? Perhaps the will of the people is normally a third or fourth priority. I am pretty sure that is part of the job description to begin with. Perhaps a freudian slip.

    August 26, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. BBBBBB

    This guy is such a disgrace. He needs to go already.

    August 26, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. David Newport, OR

    in other words...If you step down and give me the Governorship, I will no longer need to pay for that stepping stone by earning the votes of the People of South Carolina. This allows me to move on to the next stepping stone. Stanford should step down...but no deals should be made.

    August 26, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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