When the House Republican Caucus gathered for their annual meeting last weekend, they unofficially discussed the issue of the possible impeachment of Governor Mark Sanford. Republican leaders now say they plan to wait for the findings of the state Ethics Commission before they decide about beginning impeachment proceedings.But a few of their democratic colleagues say such an important matter as impeachment should have only been discussed before both Republicans and Democrats, not at a private caucus meeting.
Senator Phil Leventis of Sumter says it reminds him of the proverbial “smoke-filled rooms” where inside leaders once made important decisions in private that affected everyone. He says the matter shouldn’t have been discussed until lawmakers, including Democrats, returned to Columbia, even if they were called back for a special session. “They can basically just meet and make policy, then rubber stamp it when the legislature comes back. And that matter affects the future of the state.”
Chester Representative Greg Delleney is preparing impeachment legislation for the beginning of the regular legislative session in January in the case that leaders of the House and Senate don’t call a special session before then to impeach Sanford. Delleney takes exception to Leventis’ comments, asserting that the media was invited to witness the caucus’ impeachment discussion. “We’re not invited to the Democratic caucus meeting so why should we invite the Democrats? We are the majority party. At the same time, in that respect, he(Leventis) is of our party. He does bare our ground. We can’t do it without bipartisan support and a two-thirds vote.”
Delleney says Sanford is a member of the GOP, and the question that members of the Republican caucus should be asking, first of all, is “does character matter?”
“If it does matter, then this episode should end in impeachment and it should be begun by Republicans,” said Delleney. “But we can’t do it alone and once it reaches the legislature it becomes a bipartisan thing. But we are certainly free to have our caucus meeting and talk about the most pressing issue facing the state at this time, which is the governor, who is a Republican.”