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. Jann in Denver

    Impeach this fool since he does not have the good grace to step aside of his own volition.

    August 26, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. KK

    "Regrettably, we have reached a point where we must all put the interests of the people ...first,"

    Does anyone need further proof of where political loyalties lie?

    August 26, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  3. Farrell in Houston

    Sanford is all about Sanford, not his wife, children, or the people who elected him, it's all about Sanford and nobody else otherwise he wouldn't allow further embarrassment to anyone else. Do the right thing for once and just resign.

    August 26, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Delegate from California

    This is a Stupid Gameand what makes me laugh is how much people want to protect Family Values and they turn around and have affairs. But have a problem with GAY MARRIAGE!!!!

    Governor Sanford and his Republican friends pushed for President Clinton's impeachment due to an affair. Well I believe that Governor Sanford needs to resign from office or be impeached and removed from office just like he work so passionable to remove President Clinton from office.

    This guy put the State of SC in danger when he decided to run to his mistress and not letting anyone know and transfering the power to the Lt. Governor in case of an Emergency.

    Mr. Governor Sanford, YOU ARE FIRED !!!!

    August 26, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. SCarolina

    ENOUGH!!! Already. This guy is a hypocrite and an embarrassment to the state of South Carolina. Also, those who follow him and agree with his every word are hypocrites as well, regardless of political party.

    August 26, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    I am no fan of Governor Sanford, but he has not done anything that other governors all across this country have not done. Sanford's only problem is that his indiscretions got too much media attention and now the republicans are trying to get rid of an embarrassment. If Sanford was a democrat, his fellow democrats would be defending his behavior and the media would give him a pass.

    August 26, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  7. Myrtle Beach Retreat!!!

    So who's paying for this Republican Myrtle Beach Retreat????? I guess the South Carolina tax payers......Sorry south get screwed again.

    August 26, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Get to steppin' Gov. Don't turn this into an embarrassing circus for your family. They are holding the door open for you, the only dignified thing left for you to do is to walk out through it. See ya', would'nt want to be 'ya!

    August 26, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. Doc

    Call it whatever you want; They should of been asked this false servant of the people to step down. Its funny how "now" someone wants to look out for the people of south carolina. Why wasn't the LT Gov doing it sooner. Sanford should've been gone!

    August 26, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. Gravitas

    "selfless" – yeah right!

    August 26, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. Roger

    Republicans even kick their own when they are down.....I can live with Sanford's affair as a democrat I can forgive & move is the lying about how frugal we should all be "like him" that bothers me the most, he is a hypocrite to the fullest extent...I feel for his wife & boys. I can assure you Bauer is not any better, he thinks he is above the law....this will all come out during the campaign....

    August 26, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Gov. Mark Sanford hang on in there and fight to keep your job because Andre Bauer want your job. Bauer's will be the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination if he assuming the top office and running as an incumbent in next year's GOP primary

    August 26, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  13. Jen

    "Regrettably, we have reached a point where we must all put the interests of the people of South Carolina first,"

    Doesn't that just speak volumes of politicians.

    August 26, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. James Stanley

    Sanford is a cheat and a liar, why is he still there........?

    August 26, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. Real Democrat

    By all means, he should stay in office. The hypocricy and hilarity are worth it. What is it about people from south of the Mason Dixon Line? Sure, use taxpayer money to cheat on your wife. What's wrong with that? Please stay just a little bit longer. I love it.

    August 26, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |

    SC resident here - let it go Sanford, you are a disgrace to yourself, your state and your Lord.

    August 26, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. Leslie

    It's interesting to me that the Republican party preaches "Family and Christian Values" and are the first to reject anything to that would HELP FAMILIES! And then there's Sanford, what a hypocrit!

    August 26, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  18. JonDie

    Thanks to Bush's "leadership" the entire country almost collapsed onto the rubbish heap of history, and even today we are probably going to be defeated in Afghanistan thanks to Bush's malfeasance.

    Yet all South Carolina is fixated on whether their adulterous governor will do the right thing and step down...and put himself before everyone.

    Pretty laughable. How about some real another 20 hours of Michael Jackson reports?

    August 26, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  19. Roger

    Why are we Punishing and Accusing Gov. Mark Sanford of "Serious Misconduct"

    When Mark Sanford Lied to his wife, No Body Died, Hurt or was Killed.

    When Bush Lied:

    1. 4300 US Troops Died.
    2 25000 US Troops Hurt.
    3. 100000 Iraqis Killed.

    We have Pardoned Bush.

    We should Pardon Sanford. 😐

    August 26, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. jeb b

    its a whole lot of you folks that are coming up to the plate and casting that "first stone" he who is w/o sin. this man is not doing nothing that all GOV"T officals have done and or/ doing and haven't got caught yet . . i ask all you hypocrites to get the mote out your own eyes cause i guarntee you, all of you crooks what goes around comes around and you all fall down. i hated his 'racist' politics but other than that the man is human. he found love..... [love] it will make you do right, it will make you do wrong. allow him to finish his term if he has not violated any or broke any law.

    August 26, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. Community Organizer

    Actually, Sanford did lie. He said he was hiking the Applachian Trail when he was actually in Argentina. He is a member of C-Street as is Ensign as well. C-Street is a secret society made up of high profile individuals who perform in misconduct and their actions of misconduct are to be only contained in that society. As a citizen of SC, this is his last term and I'll be glad to see him go. Google, Douglas Coe, and you'll find out more about C-Street.

    August 26, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. Obamacrat

    "Regrettably, we have reached a point where we must all put the interests of the people of South Carolina first,"

    Is it just me or did that not quite come out right?

    August 26, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  23. Alex

    Isn't this so typical of Politicians who've been caught with their hands in the cookie jar! They actually believe they are infalable and their ego's prevent them from doing the right thing. Heck I'm a Republican who believes Sanford needs to go away. He is not what Republicans are about nor is his conduct acceptible.

    August 26, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  24. 60's survivor

    if you can't walk the talk then get going be gone please

    August 26, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. Mike

    "Regrettably, we have reached a point where we must all put the interests of the people of South Carolina first," Bauer said.

    Well, there! He said it!. It's not REALLY about serving the people, it's about one's own political career. It is a tragic thing from a politicans perspective to have to elevate the interests of the people above their own needs. How inconsiderate of the people of South Carolina! Aren't you ashamed of yourselves?

    August 26, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
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