South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says that he is being held to different standards that previous state officials when it comes to impeachment. The governors office has hired, at taxpayer expense, a new member of the governor’s legal team who has expertise in dealing with impeachment. Ross Garber is officially the attorney for the Office of the Governor, working to represent the institution of governor. He works at $150 an hour in addition to the existing attorneys in the governor’s office.
Garber says that the South Carolina Constitution’s standard for impeachment is higher than lawmakers are contending in their efforts to impeach Sanford. He says, in a statement released the day of the first impeachment meeting:
Garber, in a statement released that same day said:
“The Legislature today began an extraordinary and extremely rare process. Only eight governors have been impeached and removed from office in the history of the United States, and only two in the last 80 years * both of whom were indicted on felony charges. The Ad Hoc Committee must decide whether there is clear and convincing evidence that the Governor committed a serious crime or serious misconduct in office that has corrupted the system of government in South Carolina. This standard is intentionally high.
“The Governor’s temporary absence from the state in June does not meet this high standard. As was pointed out in the hearing this afternoon, the state Constitution ensures that the chain of command in state government is not threatened because the Lt. Governor is automatically transferred command in the event of an emergency during the governor’s temporary absence.”
Committee member Greg Delleney co-sponsored the impeachment resolution. He disagrees, saying Sanford’s behavior when he disappeared to Argentina for about 6 days unannounced and unaccounted for was “serious misconduct.”
“The Constitution does not contemplate a missing governor without notice, an AWOL governor. In addition, the governor directed members of his staff in manner that caused them to deceive and mislead the public officials of the state of South Carolina as well as the public of South Carolina, as to his whereabouts,” stated Delleney in the first meeting of the impeachment committee.