Politics & Government

Turns out the affair was the least of Sanford's troubles

COLUMBIA, S.C. — As talk of impeachment grows, the S.C. Ethics Commission said Friday it would consider probing new claims Gov. Mark Sanford failed to report private plane flights provided by friends and political groups.

At the request of Attorney General Henry McMaster, commissioners were already weighing whether to launch an investigation into Sanford’s alleged misuse of state aircraft.

Now, commissioners will take the new claims into account, too, in determining whether an investigation is necessary, said Herbert Hayden, the commission’s executive director.

An investigation that concludes Sanford violated state law could be used as the foundation for impeachment proceedings by House lawmakers when they come back into session in January.

Sanford and his allies say the claims are bogus and the governor has followed the law.

"With the flights in question, the (governor’s) office believed it was operating in full accord with all state laws,” read a Friday release from Sanford’s office. "In many instances, the governor was using private airplanes rather than the state plane as a way of saving taxpayer money. In other instances, he simply, but emphatically, disagrees that flights should be classified as something other than what they were — with ‘friends and family.’”

State law does not require elected officials to report gifts — including plane rides — if the giver is a friend or family member of the official, said Butch Bowers, an attorney with the Hall and Bowers law firm in Columbia and a Sanford friend.

Read the full story at thestate.com.