A House panel likely will decide today if Gov. Mark Sanford should be the first impeached executive in South Carolina history.
Members of the seven-member panel say the vote will likely set a precedent for judging future governors' conduct.
Sanford has been under scrutiny since June, when he left the state for five days for a secret Argentina rendezvous with his lover. Since then, the media, S.C. State Ethics Commission investigators and lawmakers have reviewed Sanford's entire record, from his use of state aircraft and campaign funds to whether he coerced his staff to lie on his behalf and planned a 2008 South American trade trip as a cover for his extramarital affair.
Lawmakers already are considering one impeachment charge - for abandoning his duties - and will debate a second today. No matter the outcome of today's vote, the full Judiciary Committee will debate impeachment Dec. 16.
Sanford's attorneys have argued that nothing the governor did meets the "serious crimes" or "serious misconduct" standards required by the state constitution, and the unlike other impeached governors, Sanford has not been charged with or convicted of a felony.
The full House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet next week, which could end the impeachment questions or send the matter to the full House for a vote.
"I think it is" a historic moment, said Rep. James Smith, D-Richland and a member of the impeachment panel. "I'm treating it like that."
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