Constitutional Law

After AWOL Argentine Affair, Gov. Sanford Now Faces Ethics Charges Over Expenses

The governor of South Carolina is accused of taking illicit upgrades from coach to business or first class, as well as misusing government planes for personal purposes including a haircut, in 37 charges filed today by the state ethics commission.

Gov. Mark Sanford has been scrutinized on multiple fronts after a secret trip to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he was having an affair came to light in June. But attorney Butch Bowers, who represents the Republican leader, says in a written statement that none of the misconduct alleged in the 17-page document released today comes anywhere close to the wrongdoing traditionally required to force a sitting governor from office, reports the New York Times.

“We are confident that we will be able to address each of these questions, none of which constitutes findings of guilt and none of which we believe rise anywhere near to the traditional standard of impeachment, now that we finally have an opportunity to present our side of the story,” Bowers says.

Only the state attorney general can determine whether to file criminal charges against Sanford, and he is now reviewing the report, recounts CNN Politics.

But the ethics commission report may add momentum to an existing impeachment effort that has been simmering for months, the blog says. That resolution, which would have to be approved by two-thirds of both houses of the state legislature before Sanford could be removed from office, was pursued over his departure from the state to visit his mistress in Argentina without either informing his staff or arranging for an alternate chain of command.

A hearing on the ethics charges is likely early next year.

Additional coverage: “S.C. Gov’s AWOL Argentine Affair Sparks Constitutional Discussions”

Associated Press: “SC gov faces 37 charges he broke state ethics laws”

Updated at 6:28 p.m. to link to Associated Press article.

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