Politics & Government

S.C. lawmakers weighing Sanford impeachment say he abused power

House lawmakers said Monday they will add additional impeachment charges against Gov. Mark Sanford for "abuse of power" in scheduling a 2008 trade trip to Argentina that was used to meet his lover.

Some lawmakers said they are convinced the trip was personal and "camouflaged," as Rep. Walt McLeod, D-Newberry called it, as a business trip. They note Sanford refunded the state $3,300 for expenses. But lawmakers have not yet decided if Sanford is guilty of the "serious" crimes or misconduct needed to remove him from office according to the state constitution.

Lawmakers will reconvene Wednesday to consider new evidence introduced Monday, including details from the S.C. Department of Commerce about the trip's origins. Sanford attorney Swati Patel noted that Commerce e-mails show Sanford had originally planned to go to Santiago, Chile after visiting Brazil, but that trip fell through. Commerce scheduled a Buenos Aires leg because of its proximity to Cordoba, Argentina, where the delegation trade trip was concluding with a private hunting trip. Patel also noted that U.S. officials had helped Commerce schedule the trip and set up meetings.

The trip is and was a legitimate business trip, Patel said, despite Sanford's reimbursement.

"He was going to get criticism either way," she told the committee. "He chose to reimburse."

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.

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