South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has dodged a bullet: the state's House Judiciary Committee, which had been considering a move to impeach Sanford, has decided to formally censure the governor instead. The measure must be approved by the South Carolina House and Senate when they return to session in January.
The censure resolution cites Sanford's disappearance from the state to Argentina and his reported misuse of state aircraft. It does not touch on his reported purchase of more-expensive-than-necessary commercial airline seats for official travel, which is another complaint against him.
Sanford was "derelict" in his duties as governor when he left the state, the resolution asserts; his "conduct in its totality has breached the public trust of South Carolinians"; and his conduct "has also brought ridicule, dishonor, disgrace, and shame" on the state and its citizens, the document says. See the full resolution here in .pdf form.
Sanford will still face 37 charges to be heard by the State Ethics Commission in January.
What did Sanford have to say about all this? Here's the statement he released in response to the committee's vote:
"As we continue to address the serious challenges now facing our state, I'd make three brief points. First, I'd like to thank the Committee for its work and deliberative approach today and throughout the process.
"Second, we'd concur with the Committee's reasonable decision to reject impeachment. As we've consistently said, this Administration has tried to be a stalwart ally of the taxpayer, and will remain so for the next 13 months.
"Third and finally, I'd join with Speaker Harrell and other legislative leaders in addressing our state's big picture challenges -- from double digit unemployment to the inefficient and unaccountable structure of state government. These recent days and weeks have given us both the best and worst of times, epitomized by yesterday's two major events: the Budget and Control Board's grim across-the-board cut to all state agencies, and the equally emblematic inaugural test flight by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner -- soon to be another crown jewel of South Carolina exports.
"I'd again ask people from across the state to make their voices heard as we enter the 2010 legislative session -- and that we all look for ways in our respective spheres of influence, whether legislatively, in the Executive Branch, or with our hometown businesses and daily conversations, to make South Carolina that much more competitive in the global competition for jobs, investment and way of life."