Commentary: Sanford's next move is likely in his own hands

Gov. Mark Sanford doesn't win any brownie points on transparency for agreeing to release an ethics report after he apparently learned that it doesn't contain any bombshells.

And we have a hard time understanding how the State Ethics Commission decided to give the report to the governor without also releasing it to the public, in light of the unanimous Supreme Court ruling that said the public was entitled to "all documentation to which he is entitled." It seems that if the commission was unsure how to read the court's ruling, it should have held off giving the report to the governor until it received the clarification that it sought.

Nonetheless, we're glad that, whatever his motives, Mr. Sanford finally has agreed to act in a way that is consistent with his long-standing opposition to government secrecy. That should eliminate the need to waste any more of the courts' time on this matter.

We're also glad that Mr. Sanford agreed to amend his annual economic interest reports to include free flights he received from people he characterizes as friends. There never was any suggestion that there was anything wrong with taking those trips - only that he should have reported them. That particular question would have been cleared up immediately had he simply amended his reports when questions first were raised about the free travel.

We hope his belated action demonstrates a willingness to stop digging in his heels and fighting even when there was no good reason (even from his perspective) to do so. That new approach to ethics laws - which is diametrically opposed to the way he handled such matters even as recently as this summer, when he voluntarily repaid the state for a perfectly legitimate business trip that included a rendezvous with his Argentine mistress - was more disturbing than the apparent misuse of state planes and campaign funds.

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