Quick Hits

Here are some other items making the rounds today.

It's primary day in Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri. CNN has an overview.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continues to hold a narrow edge over the Tea Party extremist Sharron Angle in Nevada in the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll Among voters who said they are likely to vote, Reid held a 48-44 percent lead.

The Senate on Tuesday opened floor debate of on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Five Republicans have already stated their intention to confirm while one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, will not vote to confirm. The vote will likely be held Thursday or perhaps Friday before the Senate adjourns for its August recess. More from the New York Times.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged Tuesday that President Obama's presence in some districts would hurt Democratic candidates in the midterm elections. The Hill has more on Gibbs' remarks.

David Corn of Mother Jones profiles the outgoing GOP Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina who was ousted by the Tea Party backed candidate Trey Gowdy. In the article, Congressman Inglis Bob Inglis slams Republican demagoguery, bemoans anti-Semitic tea party conspiracy nonsense, decries Sarah Palin's ignorance, while he looks for a job.

Speaking of conservative extremism and purity tests in South Carolina, the Greenville County Republican Party voted 61 to 2 to rebuke Senator Lindsey Graham for not being conservative enough. The story from CNN.

 

SC GOP: "It's Time for Mark Sanford to Go"

South Carolina Republican Chairman Karen Floyd and the state party's executive committee announced late today that it was time for Governor Mark Sanford to go and called on the Governor to resign.

The story from the Palmetto Scoop:

The tide of support from his own Republican Party officially turned against disgraced Gov. Mark Sanford Thursday as the South Carolina GOP called for his resignation.

South Carolina Republican Chairman Karen Floyd and the state party's executive committee held a 5 p.m. conference call before announcing that they had decided it was time for Sanford to go.

SCGOP spokesman Ryan Meerstein said over two-thirds of those voting favored the governor's resignation. He added that a letter from Floyd to the governor would be released later in the evening.

Sanford has come under increasing pressure to resign after allegations that he used state aircraft for personal travel, violated state law by using high-priced airfare, and didn't report the use of private aircraft. The State Ethics Commission is investigating the claims and is expected to release it's findings soon.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Bobby Harrell called for the governor's resignation, saying, "for the good of our state, Sanford should step aside."

The following day, the State House Republican Caucus sent Sanford a letter signed by 61 or 73 members asking that he resign.

Earlier in the day Governor Sanford held a press conference in which he rebuffed any suggestions that he step aside adding that he had yet to tell his side of the story. Sanford's use of state travel funds has come under state scrutiny since that revelation. He has reimbursed the state for some of the money he spent on a trade mission to South America.

There's more...

SC Attorney General Urges Ethics Probe of Governor Sanford

It is a day where sexual peccadillo and official malfeasance permeates our national conversation. First the John Edwards paternity report and now comes word that the Attorney General of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, has made a written request to Herb Hayden, Executive Director of the South Carolina Ethics Commission, asking for an official review of Governor Mark Sanford's use of state aircraft and other potential violations of state law.

The story in the New York Times:

South Carolina's attorney general said Thursday he wants state ethics commissioners to review Gov. Mark Sanford's use of state aircraft and any other potential violations of state law.

The request from Attorney General Henry McMaster follows Associated Press investigations into the Republican governor's use of state aircraft for personal and political trips, and his flights on commercial airlines.

McMaster, a fellow Republican who has said he will run for governor in 2010, made the request in a brief letter to Herb Hayden, executive director of the commission, which enforces the state's ethics laws.

The request comes amid high scrutiny of Sanford's use of state resources following the revelation that he had an affair with a woman from Argentina. After the publicity in June, Sanford reimbursed the state $3,300 for part of an economic development trip he took there.

A potential ethics probe was welcomed by the leader of the state Senate, President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell. McConnell wrote a letter to one of his colleagues and Sanford's most vocal critic, state Sen. David Thomas, who is conducting a legislative investigation of the governor's conduct.

McConnell, a Charleston Republican, said the investigations should begin immediately and include looking into any misconduct at other state agencies, including the Department of Commerce.

But McConnell, who has been largely silent on Sanford's affair and its political fallout, suggested that Thomas, a GOP candidate for Congress, tread carefully. He warned that the Senate would have to serve as an impartial jury if the House voted to launch impeachment proceedings against Sanford.

Still, not everyone is satisfied with the request. The Democratic Party Chairwoman in the Palmetto state, Carol Fowler, believes McMaster's office should handle the investigation. Calling the investigation by Ethics Committee "a farce" and "essentially the same as having Sanford investigate himself."

There's more...

Mark Sanford's Growing Troubles

Just days after his wife Jenny Sanford and their four sons moved out of the South Carolina Governor's Mansion, Governor Mark Sanford's use of state aircraft for personal and political trips, often bringing along his wife and children -- contrary to state law regarding official use, is raising questions about possible ethics violations. The story from the Associated Press:

Records reviewed by the AP show that since he took office in 2003, the two-term Republican has taken trips on state aircraft to locations of his children's sporting events, hair and dentist appointments, political party gatherings and a birthday party for a campaign donor.

According to state budget law, "Any and all aircraft owned or operated by agencies of the State Government shall be used only for official business."

On March 10, 2006, a state plane was sent to pick up Sanford in Myrtle Beach and return him to Columbia, the state capital, at a cost of $1,265 -- when his calendar showed his only appointment in Columbia was "personal time" at his favorite discount hair salon. He had flown to Myrtle Beach on a private plane and attended a county GOP event.

The trip home on the state aircraft took off at 1:50 p.m. and arrived in Columbia at 2:35 p.m., enabling the governor to keep his plans for a 3 p.m. haircut across town. There were no other appointments on his official schedule that afternoon; the trip back to Columbia would have taken about three hours by car.

Also, on five of the last six Thanksgiving weekends, Sanford used a state plane to fly himself, his wife and their four sons from the family's plantation in Beaufort County to Columbia for the state Christmas tree lighting. The cost for those flights alone: $5,536, including $2,869 for flying the plane empty to pick them up.

Funny how those so committed to limited government have no problem spending taxpayer money on themselves. The findings were revealed by an Associated Press investigation. The AP report also "raises questions about how South Carolina polices the use of its aircraft and reveals a system rife with shoddy record keeping and violations of laws that require the public be able to see documents." Misuse of state resources might yet subject the still embattled Governor Sanford to civil or criminal penalties under the state's ethics laws. It is unclear, however, whether the South Carolina Ethics Commission will launch its own investigation though the pressure in that direction is mounting.

There's more...

SC GOP Censures Mark Sanford

The Executive Committee of the South Carolina Republican Party has voted to censure Governor Mark Sanford. The SC GOP Executive Committee held an extraordinary four hour conference call to determine the Governor's fate. In the end, 22-voted for censure, 10-voted for his resignation and 9-voted against any reprimand. More from CNN:

Calling for a time of healing, the Executive Committee of the SC GOP called the past two weeks "divisive" and "disappointing."

"Now is the time for healing for the Sanford family. We must pray for them - Mark, Jenny and their four beautiful boys. Now is the time for healing for the Republican Party. We must hold true to our core beliefs and re-commit to being Republican now more than ever before. And now is the time for healing for our great State."

The formal reprimand passed by the SC GOP states that Governor Sanford failed to act in accordance with the core principals and beliefs of the Republican Party. The declaration called the censure appropriate and said it would be the last word on the matter.

Governor Sanford issued a short statement after the censure vote through his spokesman.

"The governor fully appreciates the party's position, and he intends to work diligently to earn back its trust," said spokesman Joel Sawyer.

It seems that Mark Sanford will survive this episode though it's fair to say his long-term political prospects have likely suffered a fatal blow.

There's more...

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