This time, it's about politics, not an Argentine mistress. A state senator is investigating whether the governor used state money inappropriately on his travels.
Mary Ann Chastain/AP
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s troubles are apparently far from over.
First came his incommunicado absence, then revelations of an Argentine mistress, and a tearful admission of personal failure – a drama that threatened to loosen his grip on the reins of the Palmetto State.
But the Sanford saga is now moving into a deeper and perhaps even more treacherous territory: a political battle involving an investigation into the Republican governor’s travel plans and his use of state aircraft. With a dogged state senator leading a comprehensive investigation into Governor Sanford’s alleged misdeeds, impeachment whispers can once again be heard in the State Capitol.
“The dialogue has shifted from a concern about the governor’s private conduct to concern about the governor’s public conduct,” says Blease Graham, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina. “This is more than just sensationalism; it’s politics now. There are awkward moments ahead.”
Awkward moments are continuing on the personal front.
One reason for Sanford's survival in the topsy-turvy days after his admission of an affair was that his wife, Jenny Sanford, offered to reconcile, appeasing some in Sanford’s evangelical base.
But images of Ms. Sanford herself moving boxes out of the Governor’s Mansion over the weekend raised doubts about whether those efforts – which included recent trips to Florida and Europe – have worked. The couple says the split has more to do with their decision to send their four boys to school near the couple’s coastal home.
Whatever the cause, Republican state Sen. David Thomas is watching. The chair of a legislative subcommittee looking into possible misuse of state funds by Sanford, Senator Thomas says: “The humiliation and embarrassment that this has brought to the state, one has to weigh at what point it reaches the constitutional level of [the governor] being removed.”