Governor Mark Sanford is being criticized all over the state for his use of travel in office, as well as his failure to tell his office where he was when he went to Argentina to see his mistress. Even members of his own party are leaning toward impeachment. Pickens Senator Larry Martin, who thinks the governor should resign, says the governor told him he had a back-channel way of contact when he went to Argentina.
“He told me in a phone conversation that he had a ‘back-channel way’ for somebody to reach him, but there was no explanation other than the reference of a back-channel. I would assume what he was talking about was nobody on his staff knew how to get a hold of him, and it was somebody independent of his staff,” says Martin.
Martin says no one knows who that person was, and in the days ahead the “back-channel” issue will become more magnified.
“Leading up to possible discussions over on the House side, at least, as to basis for any impeachment process that might go forward, particularly after the Ethics Commission makes its findings of the governor’s travel, use of state plane, campaign funds, reimbursements, those type of things. Should that also play into the discussion, you can rest assured we will be hearing more about this back-channel issue,” says Martin.
Martin says if impeachment is considered, after the ethics investigation, one of the main points should be the lack of contact the governor had when he disappeared to Argentina.
The lieutenant governor would take over as governor if impeachment were to occur.
“The state constitution says if the governor is impeached, or any officer that would be impeached through that process, judge, or whatever, then the officer holder is suspended from office until the trial in the senate. The senate either results in conviction, which would be removal, or exoneration, which would be reinstatement,” says Martin.
If Sanford is impeached, Martin says the non-criminal charges would be dropped and, from there, it would be up to the Attorney General.
“The Attorney General could prosecute, or the Ethics Commission could refer him to the Attorney General for some sort of disposition of it, just by statute,” says Martin.