Saturday, June 27, 2009

CREW Requests Ethics Investigation of Gov. Sanford

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint against South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford with the South Carolina Attorney General and the State Ethics Commission, requesting an investigation into activities surrounding a surreptitious trip the governor made to Argentina. Earlier this week, Gov. Sanford publicly admitted that he visited a woman with whom he has been engaged in an extramarital affair, now-reported as Maria Belen Chapur. Gov. Sanford said he has known the woman for eight years, and the two began a sexual relationship approximately a year ago.

In its letter, CREW alleges Gov. Sanford may have violated the South Carolina law in conducting his affair.

Gov. Sanford apparently did not apprise any South Carolina officials, including Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, of his whereabouts or provide truthful information to his staff, his security detail, or any responsible state government official regarding his destination, nor was anyone able to reach him by telephone or electronically for at least five days. According to Gov. Sanford, he “creat[ed] a fiction” by telling members of his staff that he planned to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail when he was actually traveling to Argentina.

By leaving the state without informing Lt. Gov. Bauer he had the authority to act as governor, Gov. Sanford may have endangered the state and violated the South Carolina Constitution, which provides “in the event of the temporary absence of the Governor from the State, the Lieutenant Governor shall have full authority to act in an emergency.”

Based on reports the governor used a state vehicle to reach the Columbia airport to catch his flight and that a government aide picked him up from the Atlanta airport upon his return, CREW also asked for an investigation into whether Gov. Sanford illegally used additional state funds, equipment, or personnel to conduct the affair.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, “The only sound decision Gov. Sanford appears to have made recently was to resign his post as chair of the Republican Governors Association. Why is the governor incapable of leading the RGA, but still fit to lead the state of South Carolina? Clearly, Gov. Sanford should resign, but whatever he does, it is incumbent upon South Carolina’s Attorney General and the State Ethics Commission to hold the governor accountable.”

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