Greenville Senator David Thomas, who is investigating Governor Mark Sanford’s travel spending, has sent evidence to SC Senate leaders showing that Sanford violated state laws requiring the cheapest travel possible. And Thomas says if the findings of the investigation are significant enough, it may lead to impeachment proceedings. Thomas says impeachment is possible.An Associated Press report alleged over the weekend that Sanford used the state’s planes for personal and political trips to fly to his children’s sporting events, to hair and dentist appointments, and to political gatherings, as well as a birthday party for a campaign donor. State law requires the planes to be used only for official business.
And Thomas says Sanford’s flights in some cases cost the state more than they should have. The Republican says two trips cost the state almost $14,000 more than the economy class flights. State law says state employees are supposed to take the least-expensive options.
The Republican Senator says he doesn’t believe that a single issue like violating the travel law would trigger impeachment. But he says lawmakers will likely consider a combination of concerns. “I think that everything that we have so far and everything that could be revealed in upcoming weeks and months could lead the House to deciding on articles of impeachment.”
Sanford’s staff has said that the governor used the planes less frequently than his predecessors.
Thomas says just like the process in Washington, articles of impeachment are voted on by the House and then brought before the Senate. “They could tell the governor that he can no longer be governor. I think it’s likely that’s what’s coming, considering the totality of information that’s now becoming available to the legislature.”
Senator Thomas says the evidence leads him to believe that Sanford violated the state’s codes and he says impeachment is possible considering everything together. “It’s everything together, even the embarrassment the state has incurred, his lying to his staff about his whereabouts. That could deemed to be malfeasance in office.
Senator Thomas says considering everything together, he believes that lawmakers may decide to impeach Sanford. “We’ll take everything together, even his wife leaving the mansion. This is an embarrassment to the state. It hurts economic development. It hurts us all. At some point in time I think the legislators have to come down on the side of eliminating this governor. That’s my opinion.”
Last month the AP reported that Sanford charged the state more than $37,000 for first-class and business-class flights overseas since November 2005 despite a state law requiring lowest-cost travel.