Impeachment debate focuses on S.C. governor’s tryst

Associated Press / December 8, 2009

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COLUMBIA, S.C. - Lawmakers debating yesterday whether to impeach Governor Mark Sanford challenged claims that a 2008 taxpayer-funded trip in which he saw his Argentine mistress was legitimate state business.

Sanford’s office and state Commerce Department officials have said the trip, which included stops in Buenos Aires and Brazil, was for legitimate state business. But state Representative Greg Delleney, Republican of Chester, said he believes the so-called economic development mission was cover for something else.

“I disagree with the governor’s office when they say it was merely a coincidence that he had personal reasons for going down to Buenos Aires,’’ said Delleney, who has introduced a resolution calling for Sanford’s impeachment.

“State business was kind of thrown in as a cover.’’Delleney is part of a House Judiciary subcommittee debating whether to recommend impeachment, censure or no penalty for Sanford over his five-day disappearance from the state in June.

Sanford’s chief counsel, Swati Patel, said the 2008 trip was proposed first by the state Department of Commerce, not Sanford.

The subcommittee will meet again tomorrow and will eventually make a recommendation to the full Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to send the resolution to the House.

A two-thirds vote to impeach there would send it to the Senate, which would act as a jury for a trial.