Commentary: Ethics probe would be in Sanford's best interest

Nobody in any position to do anything particularly wants to get into an investigation of the governor. Nor is there anybody in any position to do anything who could not be accused of having political motivations for acting or not acting.

But after the extraordinary events of the past week, which saw the whole tone of the conversation change and serious people start talking seriously about impeachment, it's hard to argue credibly that anyone is trying to white-wash allegations that Gov. Mark Sanford illegally used state aircraft for personal or political benefit.

As Attorney General Henry McMaster points out, the law the governor is accused of violating specifically says violations are to be investigated by the State Ethics Commission. It's an extraordinary provision; most laws such as this are silent on prosecution, leaving officials groping for exactly how to proceed.

And so Mr. McMaster — who is charged not with investigating but rather with prosecuting — was correct to call on the Ethics Commission to look into the allegations. (Calls for a State Grand Jury investigation are nonsensical, since the law quite clearly limits the use of this super-powerful investigative panel to cases in which "normal investigative or prosecutorial procedures are not adequate." Absolutely nothing to date has suggested that is the case here.)

Likewise, House Speaker Bobby Harrell was right — at least for now — to say the House should hold off on any impeachment investigation while the Ethics Commission does its work. Whatever the commission's shortcomings, it does have the procedures in place to conduct a proper investigation, which cannot be said of the House or the Senate.

To read the complete editorial, visit The State (Columbia, S.C.).