The State Ethics Commission has charged Gov. Mark Sanford with breaking state ethics laws 37 times, including using state planes for family trips, spending campaign funds on a hunting trip and flying first class, instead of coach, while on state travel. The commission, which last week wrapped up its preliminary, three-month-long investigation into allegations against the embattled governor, released the charges to the public Monday.
The commission’s findings have been eagerly awaited by legislators, who are deciding whether to oust Sanford from office before his term ends in January 2011.
The S.C. Ethics Commission has charged Gov. Mark Sanford with breaking 37 state ethics laws. The charges, released Monday, allege:
18: Instances in which Sanford flew first- or business class – in violation of state law, which requires an urgent reason to use a pricey ticket. Most of the flights were to Europe, Asia and South America, including a 2008 trip Sanford extended so he could see his Argentine lover.
10: Occasions Sanford used almost $3,000 in campaign money to pay for personal expenses, which is barred by state law. The largest single expense – $864.90 in November 2008 – was to attend a Republican governors meeting in Miami and to pay for a hunting trip in Ireland.
9: Instances Sanford or family members used state aircraft for personal travel, which is barred by law, including: flying to GOP events in Anderson and Greenville; the Aiken birthday party of a campaign contributor; and flying from West Virginia to Georgia for a vacation.
An impeachment resolution seeks to remove the two-term Republican governor, who cannot run for re-election again, for disappearing from the state for five days in June. The married governor subsequently said he had been in Argentina, visiting his lover.
The subcommittee hopes to finish its work by Christmas. Its recommendation then would go to the full House Judiciary Committee. If that committee votes to impeach Sanford, the resolution would go to the full House. If the House passes the resolution, it would go to the S.C. Senate, which would try Sanford. If convicted, he would be removed from office.