The South Carolina House on Wednesday voted 102-11 for a resolution censuring Gov. Mark Sanford. The censure vote came quickly after only limited discussion, even though some House leaders had said previously it may take a full day.
Judiciary Chairman Jim Harrison talked about Sanford’s dereliction of duty. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have lived this nightmare for more than seven months,” said Harrison. “We may legitimately disagree on whether the governor’s conduct rises to the level of impeachment. I admire Representative (Greg) Delleney for his conviction on this issue, but it’s time for us to put this behind us. But not before we do our duty and tell our governor that his actions constitute misconduct.”
Democratic leader Harry Ott discussed with Ott that the concurrent resolution, which requires a vote by the Senate, could easily disappear into a Senate Committee under Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell before it becomes official. Harrison says he wanted the Senate to have a chance to vote on the censure, but he says if necessary he would support a later vote for an independent House resolution that stands alone without the Senate.
Harrison said that failure to vote for the censure would send a message to the governor and citizens that the governor’s behavior was acceptable. “I can’t believe that anyone in this body would believe that to be the case,” said Harrison. “It’s time to move on and tell the governor that he committed misconduct in office.”
An impeachment vote failed in Harrison’s full Judiciary Committee on a vote of 18-6. Following that the vote was 24-0 for censure.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell issued a statement saying that the past year’s fallout surrounding Governor Sanford has marked a dark chapter in the state’s history. He wrote that a House committee found that Governor Sanford’s actions were irresponsible and hypocritical and that he used a taxpayer funded trip as a means to a personal end. Harrell said that it’s time to turn the page, and focus the state on the many serious issues that it faces. He referred to the landing of Boeing as a bright page for the state which will bring in thousands of jobs and a new future.
Ott told his fellow lawmakers that he wasn’t holding them to a standard that he didn’t hold himself. He said when he grew up, politicians were held in some esteem. But now Ott says politicians think about themselves and have forgotten about the greater good. He’s not sure that parents in South Carolina want their kids to grow up to be politicians.
Ott quoted the book of Matthew: “You hypocrites–first take the plank from your own eye then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Ott called for lawmakers, as they censure the governor and make laws in the future, to check their own lives.