Around 80 people, almost all democrats, rallied at the Statehouse Thursday evening calling for Governor Mark Sanford’s resignation or impeachment.
The late Michael Jackson played over the speakers, singing about “Change.” A large orange poster containing the outline of a peach with a big “M” in the middle, for “M-peach,” was held in a long line of posters.
The star speaker in the citizens’ rally was well-known Charleston Democrat Phil Noble, who leads a progressive statewide group known as the New Democrats.
Noble said that democracy, to work, has to have a basic sense of honor and trust between the people and their leaders, and he says that was broken by Sanford and he should resign. “All over this state there children who look up to Mark Sanford as the governor. They had his picture in their rooms. But you know what? That picture is not there anymore because the parents had to explain to the kids what this governor did.”
But critics were writing a day before the rally that the event was too little too late, since the major voices of criticism had grown mostly silent, both Democrats and Republicans, after a SLED review found no wrongdoing and the state Republican Executive Committee had slapped the governor on the hand with a censure.
The citizen’s rally was promoted through the internet site Facebook.
Jay Ault of Woodruff was one of the Democrats who spoke. “Whether or not official business was conducted on the trip to Argentina doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that he saw her on his off time. What matters is that he used taxpayer money to get there. And he was sending emails to her using email paid for by taxpayers.”
The governor’s spokesman said the governor understands that protesters are upset by his actions.
Charleston accountant Laurie Winds pointed out that last year’s South American business trip was originally scheduled only for Brazil. “The US Commerce Department halted high-level trade missions to Argentina after that country reneged on its debts in 2002. Somehow Governor Sanford arranged business meetings with Argentina, but no trade was accomplished from the trip. Does Governor Sanford really think the people are so naive that they can’t see the purpose of that trip?”
Within days of his announcement about his affair, Governor Sanford repaid for the Argentine leg of the trip, close to $8000, even though he asserts that official business was indeed conducted on it.