MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Gov. Mark Sanford had no defenders when South Carolina House Republicans discussed his fate Saturday at an annual retreat.
Angry lawmakers urged colleagues to consider impeachment or asking as a group for Sanford’s resignation. But House Speaker Bobby Harrell urged his 55 House colleagues to wait on official conclusions from a State Ethics Commission report before acting.
Though House Republicans took no official action Saturday, it was clear that most in the caucus want Sanford to go.
“Is there anybody in this room that feels the governor should not resign?” asked Rep. Harry Cato, the House speaker pro tem. “I don’t hear anybody defending him.”
Lawmakers said Sanford had become an obstacle since disappearing on a five-day trip to Argentina in June and later admitting an extramarital affair. Since then, questions have been raised about Sanford’s use of state planes and other resources.
Sanford said that he has done nothing that was not also done by past administrations and that he has used state planes less than former governors. Sanford has refused to resign.
But many House Republicans want to push the issue.
Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, said he believed Sanford could be impeached on two charges that met the constitutional requirement of serious misconduct: leaving his post to travel to Argentina and disgracing the office of governor. Delleney argued the Legislature should begin impeachment proceedings immediately.
“We determine what serious misconduct is,” Delleney said, noting the Constitution does not define the term. “We’re not dependent on courts. We’re not dependent on the Ethics Commission.
“It’s the Republicans that ought to take care of this problem,” Delleney said, noting that the party’s credibility is at stake.
Even those who generally have supported the governor favored his resignation.
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