Is Mark Sanford about to leave? Stay tuned.
Fellow Republicans – including the lieutenant governor, the House speaker, and most lawmakers – have called for his resignation. He'll speak later Thursday.
Mary Ann Chastain/ AP
Is this it for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford?
Despite attempts to recover his reputation with “the folks of South Carolina” in recent days, the embattled Mr. Sanford is facing an increasingly difficult political path forward to complete the last 16 months of his term-limited tenure.
Sanford has called a 3:30 p.m. press conference to discuss “recent political developments” – including a call for his resignation from 61 House Republicans and an expected party resolution demanding that he resign from the South Carolina state GOP.
Opposition to Sanford remaining in office has grown steadily since Sanford disappeared from view and contact for five days in June. He told aides he was walking the Appalachian Trail, but he had actually flown to Buenos Aires to spend several tear-filled days with a mistress he later called his “soul mate.”
It's clear that the governor’s extramarital affair, added to his strange disappearance, is at the root of the resignation calls, especially now that the affair has all but consumed the business of the state for two months running.
But the state’s Ethics Committee is also looking into potential misuse of state aircraft by Sanford. The governor has welcomed that investigation and has urged that it be open to the public. He also has consistently pointed out that the current campaign against him is more about entrenched South Carolina politics than his own actions.
“The moral wrong was mine and the consequences past, present, and future are mine, but there’s a very different story that has led to headlines over two months and that’s been about a lot of things being driven by politics,” Sanford told WVOC radio on Tuesday. He added: “There’s been eight governors impeached in the history of the nation, all involving fairly heinous things. There’s certainly a world of difference in what happened in those instances” compared to his own situation.
But in the last week, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and House Speaker Bobby Harrell, both fellow Republicans, issued public letters to Sanford, calling for his resignation for the good of the public trust – and the ability of Columbia to move past a scandal that increasingly stands in the way of the state's business.
“You’ve got a state that is not moving absolutely at all forward, so there is no effectiveness whatsoever,” Lieutenant Governor Bauer told SCNOW.com, a news website, on Thursday. “Do we think [Sanford] can go back in January and actually make something happen legislatively? Of course not, it’s going to be a fiasco that not only we have to witness, but that the world will witness. It would be better than any reality TV show in America.”
Most critically perhaps, as South Carolina waits again for the governor to speak, is that the letter from 61 House members calling for his resignation has turned the mathematical probability of Sanford surviving an impeachment battle in January from unlikely to nearly impossible.
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