Calls for SC Governor Sanford's resignation surge again
It's been two months since Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford admitted - in excruciating detail - to his affair with a woman from Argentina. After the initial uproar, calls for Sanford's resignation largely died out and it looked as though he would manage to serve out his term in office. But in the last week, those calls have surged again. WFAE's Julie Rose has more from Columbia: Governor Sanford hoped he could apologize for his infidelity and people would let him get back to state business for the last 18 months of his term. In fact, he's convinced that everyday South Carolinians have moved on. "And the one exception is here in Columbia," says Governor Sanford. "And I don't mean this negatively toward you all in the press, but, you know, some in the press very much are still focused on this, and some in political circles are still focused on this." The focus has shifted, though, from the steamy details of Sanford's love affair to other possible missteps he may have made. A team of reporters at The State newspaper in Columbia is working through a pile of public records requests regarding the Governor. "We got a book of them," says Leroy Champan, paging through a three-ring binder. Chapman is Government and Politics editor for The State, which broke the news of Sanford's affair. "(These requests) are about travel expenses and about email correspondences to make sure the public record is matching up to what they say." The Associated Press and other media are also investigating, and the latest reports suggest Sanford may have violated state laws or ethics rules in his travel. Sanford calls the charges sensational and complains that his record is being taken out of context, "because we have an incredible record when it comes to watching out for the tax payer." Nevertheless, Sanford's opponents have used the latest allegations to revive calls for resignation. On Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer held a press conference and became the highest ranking Republican state official to join the chorus. "The serious misconduct that's already been revealed, along with lingering questions and continuing distractions, make it virtually impossible to solve the critical problems we're facing without a change in leadership," said Bauer. Governor Sanford held a press conference three hours later to again insist he's staying in office. But the Lieutenant Governor says it's not up to Sanford alone. "I hope the Governor will reconsider and he won't drag our state through impeachment proceedings because - and they're gonna happen," said Bauer in a one-on-one interview Thursday morning. Bauer says a lot of lawmakers in the Republican-controlled legislature are waiting until they convene in January to start pushing impeachment because it will be a convenient platform for mid-term elections. Sanford says he won't let his political opponents railroad him out of office. But there's a growing sense that calls for his resignation are not personal. "None of us want to do this. Nobody wants to impeach him," says Democratic State Representative Todd Rutherford, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee which would likely handle impeachment proceedings. Rutherford continues, "In South Carolina we simply want to start looking good in the national press and on the national scene and he simply drags us back down into the mud, so that's what people are tired of." Governor Sanford's political future may hinge on what the state's House Republicans decide this weekend at their annual retreat to discuss strategy for the coming year.