NOVEMBER 24, 2009
Perpetually in denial about his deplorable actions, the Republican governor who used taxpayer resources to rendezvous with a mistress in South America is dismissing a state panel’s charges that he violated dozens of ethics laws as merely “technical questions.”
For months South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has been under investigation by the State Ethics Commission for using state planes to take personal trips, paying for overseas hunting expeditions with campaign funds and flying first class instead of coach on official travel. The two-term governor, a married father of four young boys, made global headlines in August when he vanished for a week to visit his mistress in Argentina.
The new ethics charges have inevitably led state legislators to begin impeachment proceedings. In a 17-page complaint, the commission alleges that that Sanford violated 37 state ethics laws, including using state aircraft for personal travel nine times, flying first class 18 times even though state law requires officials to use the most economical fare and improperly spending campaign money on personal matters on 10 occasions.
The disgraced governor is scheduled to appear before the commission early next year to present a defense against the charges. Of interesting note is that the three-member Ethics Commission, which will ultimately decide if Sanford is guilty, is appointed by the governor. The possibilities are that he could be cleared of wrongdoing or fined up to $74,000. Additionally, the attorney general is deciding whether or not to file criminal charges.
The investigation was initiated by Sanford’s mysterious disappearance a few months ago, which earned worldwide media attention because the governor was incommunicado for several days. His staff and sate officials said they had not heard from him and could not reach him for days. When the media started pressing for answers, his staff guessed that he was on an Appalachian Trail hike.
It turns out that Sanford, chair of the Republican Governor’s Association, was in Buenos Aires with his mistress who he later referred to as his soul mate. The governor subsequently admitted that he had been unfaithful to his wife for nearly two decades with a variety of women.
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