by Charles Lemos, Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 09:12:09 PM EST
Down in the Palmetto State, a House of Representatives panel rejected a measure to impeach Governor Mark Sanford over various transgressions related to his disappearance in order to visit his mistress in Argentina, The defeat of the measure makes it unlikely the governor will be impeached before his term ends in 2011. Instead, House impeachment panel approved an official rebuke - or censure - of Sanford for bringing "ridicule, dishonor, disgrace and shame" on the state, its citizens and the governor's office. The story in The State:
Sanford has been under scrutiny since June, when he returned from a clandestine five-day trip to Argentina and admitted an extramarital affair. Media, the State Ethics Commission and lawmakers have spent the past six months reviewing Sanford's use of state aircraft, business-class airfare and campaign funds.
Wednesday, the governor said 37 pending State Ethics Commission charges amounted to - at most - minor and technical oversights.
While Sanford's offenses were called "seriously stupid" - the words of state Rep. Garry Smith, R-Greenville - six of the seven impeachment panel members agreed they were not impeachable.
"We can't impeach for hypocrisy. We can't impeach for arrogance. We can't impeach ... for his lack of leadership skills," said committee chairman state Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Richland, arguing there were not grounds to remove Sanford from office.
The seven member panel voted 6 to 1 to spare Sanford but the once rising star of the GOP right faces a January State Ethics Commission hearing on 37 ethics charges that could carry up to $74,000 in fines. And the full Judiciary Committee also could revive the impeachment bill when it votes on it next Wednesday but that is considered unlikely. It seems that Mark Sanford's job is safe. His once promising political career - Rush Limbaugh had christened Sanford "the GOP's JFK" - it is safe to say is over.