November 23rd, 2009
05:53 PM ET
13 years ago

South Carolina panel hits Sanford with 37 ethics charges

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sanford is also facing a possible impeachment effort."](CNN) - The South Carolina Ethics Commission has charged Gov. Mark Sanford with 37 counts of violating state ethics laws, according to a complaint released by the commission on Monday.

The complaint follows a three-month investigation into Sanford's use of taxpayer money.

Sanford is accused of using tax money to purchase business-class airfare on domestic and international flights, flying on a state-owned aircraft to political gatherings or events "which involved no official business," and spending campaign funds for personal use such as purchasing a ticket to attend President Barack Obama's inauguration in January.

South Carolina law requires state officials to purchase the lowest fares available for flights, and bars the use of state aircraft for personal use.

Sanford's office did not respond to requests for comment about the charges.

The governor, once a rising star in the Republican party before he revealed an extramarital affair in June, will now face a hearing along with his legal team before a three-member ethics panel. Cathy Hazelwood, general counsel to the state Ethics Commission, told CNN that no date has been set for the hearing.

After arguments are presented, the panel will determine if Sanford broke any state laws. The ethics case involves civil charges that are punishable by fines, and Sanford can appeal decisions up to the state Supreme Court.

Only the state attorney general, Henry McMaster, can decide to pursue criminal charges against the governor. McMaster is currently reviewing the allegations to determine if any laws allegedly were broken.

The new charges compound Sanford's political problems, which have been simmering for months as investigators scrutinized his finances.

State legislators already have filed an impeachment resolution against the governor for leaving the state this summer to visit his Argentine mistress, without installing a proper chain of command or informing his staff. A special House subcommittee will meet in Columbia on Tuesday to formally consider the resolution for the first time.

State Rep. Greg Delleney, a Republican and one of the sponsors of the impeachment resolution, said he expects the subcommittee to look over the ethics commission results during the
Thanksgiving holiday and decide whether to adjust the measure to include material from the ethics complaint.

Delleney said he thinks Monday's report will give new momentum to the impeachment push.

"The sheer volume of the violations might be useful in bringing some more representatives over to the side of impeachment," Delleney told CNN.

If the special subcommittee decides to move forward with impeachment, the resolution will be passed onto the Judiciary Committee, which will then vote on whether to bring it to the floor of the legislature when lawmakers return to the state capital of Columbia in January.

For Sanford to be forcibly removed from office, two-thirds of the South Carolina House and and two-thirds of the state Senate must vote to impeach him.

Filed under: Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Perusing-through

    The honorable thing to do is leave.

    November 23, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  2. ps

    Kick him out of the office. Typical GOP pro-life religious fanatic, who sold the state of SC to his mistress in Argentina.

    November 23, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. the dude

    Who? Mark Sanford? Huh? He's been a lame duck since June.....

    November 23, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  4. Keith A Sillsbury

    should we have expected less from one of the GOstoPo than using tax payers money for self promtion instead of improving the lives of those he is suppose to serve. So what has he done for the people of SC in the mean time? Anything good?

    November 23, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  5. Ted from Calif.

    This guy is just a typical Republican politician. They all seem to have trouble with morals, ethics, and family values in addition to zipper trouble.

    November 23, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  6. gtakamine

    If given the opportunity to vote on his own impeachment, I feel he would vote himself out. Considering he voted for Clinton’s impeachment back when Clinton was president. Granted this impeachment trial is about his ethics and not about the affair, but I don’t think this probe into his spending would have happened if he didn’t abandon this duties to fly out to Argentina. I sincerely believe Mr. Sanford has some real issues and needs to deal with them and not drag his party down. Also, someone who tells his office aids to use both sides of a ‘Post-it’ to save tax-payer money really looks bad when spending tax-payer money on Business Class seats when the law specifically states for lower costing tickets. So, what was Mr. Sanford action to these allegations? He initiated a probe into past governors to compare his spending and thus believes he is not liable for the charter jet services he used for both his trips through Europe and other trips on tax payers.

    November 23, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  7. payback

    ...Being from NYC. Born in Harlem. Believe me. I'am, NO FAN. Of c. rangel. He sold-out, Harlem. He should, GO. Like that Gov. from SC.............sanford.....

    November 23, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  8. mark

    Betcha he is found not guilty on the charge of inappropriate use of state funds for the ticket to Obama's inauguration, because we all know "thats ok to spend public money on" Ha!

    November 23, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  9. catering to the liberal element

    equal time? if that were the case there would be a liberal Fox news

    no, it is not an issue of catering, it is just plain laziness and bad journalism

    CNN cover Rangel, it will be an interesting story

    November 23, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  10. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    He ought to quit like Palin and write a book of lies about everybody else but himself.

    November 23, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
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