Commentary: Ethics probe of Sanford is necessary

Official documents indicate that Gov. Mark Sanford illegally used state aircraft for personal or political benefit and that he reimbursed himself from campaign coffers for what might have been personal expenses. Now that those allegations have been made public, the state Ethics Commission needs to unearth the facts.

Many South Carolinians, including some who were not fond of Sanford to begin with, have grown weary of hearing about the fallout, legal and otherwise, from Sanford's admission of an extramarital affair. Some wish the story simply could be allowed to die and that Sanford could quietly serve out his remaining months in office.

True, this close scrutiny of Sanford might not have occurred if not for the bizarre set of circumstances that culminated in Sanford's public confession of an affair. But Sanford's decision to leave the state to travel to Argentina without notifying his staff or other state officials and the admission that he had visited his mistress on numerous other occasions led to an obvious question: Did the governor use official trips as a pretext for visiting his mistress?

The answer was ambiguous enough that Sanford willingly forked over more than $3,000 to cover the cost of his flight and accommodations on an official state trip to South America, during which he met with his paramour.

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