South Carolina impeachment panel meets today
A South Carolina legislative committee meets today to begin debating impeachment of Governor Mark Sanford. Their concerns stem from Sanford's a five-day absence over the summer to visit his Argentine mistress. WFAE's Julie Rose reports. Yesterday, the South Carolina Ethics Commission charged Governor Sanford with 37 counts of breaking ethics and campaign finance laws. The violations include upgrading to first-class plane tickets on international flights 18 times and using the state airplane for personal and political trips like attending a son's sporting event or a Republican Party fundraiser. The Governor's attorney has said the charges are minor and Sanford's travels have been taken out of context. But they will no-doubt be central to the discussion when members of the House Judiciary Committee panel on impeachment meet today at 1 p.m. "You know the sheer volume of offenses ought to give some people pause who have before now been kind of reluctant to support impeachment," says Republican Representative Greg Delleney of Chester, who filed the impeachment resolution lawmakers are considering. But Delleney filed the resolution before the ethics commission revealed its charges against Governor Sanford. Delleney believes Sanford should be impeached regardless of his ethics violations. "I don't want to talk about the travel," says Rep. Delleney. "I want to talk about his being AWOL. I mean he left the state for five days without telling anyone. He's the commander in chief. He left no protocol, no chain of command in order so that authority could be executed. And then he covered it up with a preconceived fiction." That five-day trip to Argentina back in July is what sparked increased scrutiny of Sanford's travel, however, the ethics commission's charges have nothing to do with that trip, specifically. The seven-member impeachment panel will make a recommendation to the full House Judiciary committee, which expects to vote by December 31st. The South Carolina Constitution allows impeachment in cases of serious crimes or serious misconduct. So far, no criminal charges have been filed against Sanford. But the definition of serious misconduct is murky, since there's no precedent.