The SC House Judiciary Committee impeachment panel will meet again on Wednesday as it reviews all the facts in considering whether to support the impeachment of Gov. Mark Sanford. Jim Harrison, chair of the committee says it’s important to consider facts versus trying to “read between the lines: “It’s more important to be thorough than to have a hard and fast time frame that you are looking at. I still have time for several more meetings, if we decided we needed to, and still complete the work through the full committee prior to Christmas.”
Monday’s hearing focused on a 2008 trip Gov. Mark Sanford made to Argentina– a detour from a state Commerce Department trip to Brazil. Sanford flew to Cordoba and Buenos Aires from Brazil. He flew back at taxpayer expense, but the cost was about the same if he had flown back with the official trip delegation. The governor has since reimbursed the state, in two payments, for the extra travel.
Chester Representative Greg Delleney calls a bird hunting side trip in 2008 a “cover,” as the governor took a detour to Buenos Aires where his mistress lived.
“I think that this was premeditated. I don’t think that this was decided once he got to Brazil. I think all this was that he set circumstances where he could make it possible that they would go for bird hunting in Argentina and then he could bird hunt there for a day or a day and a half or whatever, then suggest that he wanted to go down to Buenos Aires,” says Delleney.
Governor Sanford reimbursed the state about $3300 for the detour to Brazil. Chairman Harrison questioned Attorney Swati Patel of the governor’s office:
(Harrison and Patel mp3 :36)
In today’s questioning, Rep. Harrison urged the committee not to “read between the lines.”
He says, “There’s no, as I say, smoking gun at this point. Where somebody sends somebody an email that says,’I got a personal meeting that I want to be in Buenos Aires, schedule me a business trip so that I can have a legitimate reason for being there.'”
After the hearing, Ross Garber, attorney for the Office of the Governor stated:
“It is appropriate that the Committee has now dismissed 32 of the 37 ethics charges as potential grounds for impeachment. The remaining five charges clearly fall well below the standard for impeachment.”
The impeachment panel will meet again Wednesday to discuss a 2009 trip to Argentina and other remaining plane flight issues.