(Contributions from WRHI, Rock Hill)
The House member who wrote and pre-filed a resolution to impeach Governor Mark Sanford says if a vote had been taken this past summer that the House may have voted for impeachment. But the Chester County lawmaker says the more time has passed, the less likely an impeachment is.
The resolution was pre-filed in the House by Representatives Greg Delleney. Mike Pitts of Laurens, Keith Kelly of Woodruff and Gary Simrill of Rock Hill co-sponsored the legislation. The resolution has been referred to the Judiciary Committee.
On Wednesday, the state Ethics Commissioners are expected to decide whether Sanford should face criminal or civil charges or be cleared of wrongdoing. The report is expected to be released to the public soon after.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell continues to emphasize that the House should not take any official action until it receives the Ethics Commission’s investigative report. Unless the investigation contains new information about serious crimes or serious misconduct by the governor, Harrell says in his opinion, the information revealed to date does not rise to a level to remove Sanford from office.
Harrell says it’s important that lawmakers take the Governor’s actions seriously and fully investigate the issue, but he says it’s also important that they deal with the issue in a timely manner so that our state can move forward.
Delleney the governor’s actions would not have been tolerated elsewhere. “No one in the private sector or the military would have expected to keep their job had they done what Governor Sanford had done,” said Delleney. “If character matters in this state, he will be impeached.”
An impeachment proceeding would be brought in the House. If two-thirds of the House members agree, Sanford would be suspended. Then the Senate would serve as an impeachment jury to decide if the governor should be permanently removed from office.
Delleney says Sanford deceived his staff and the South Carolina public about his whereabouts and he says South Carolina needs to see an example. “We’re setting the bar for future office holders,” he said. “It’s serious misconduct to leave your post as governor without any established chain of command to exercise executive authority.”