Cover Story: SC GOP to Sanford - resign or else

By Jeff Atkinson - bio | email

ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - Is anyone on SC Governor Mark Sanford's side?  At a meeting this weekend, not one Republican defended him.  The calls to impeach, and how fast it could happen.  PrimeTime's Jeff Atkinson reports in our Cover Story.

We've learned Republicans in the South Carolina House are preparing to send a letter to the Governor this week demanding he resign.

And at least two members of the House are drawing up official resolutions of impeachment.

What's changed?  Sentiments are turning and patience is faltering.

Think Republicans are fed up?

Listen to what members of Sanford's own party are saying.

"He has disgraced the office of Governor."

"I would like to see this caucus as a group urge him to resign."

"I'm ready to sign a letter today. I want him out of office."

At a meeting of House GOP members - Myrtle Beach over the weekend.. not a single Republican came to Mark Sanford's defense.

This man.. Chester county's Greg Delleney is drawing up a resolution of impeachment.

"If he's not willing to do the right thing and resign then he needs to be impeached," says Rep. Delleney.

When the South Carolina governor made his tearful confession last July it appeared Republicans were willing to let Sanford finish his term.

Sure there was the extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina.

And leaving the country.. without his staff even knowing where he was.

But now Sanford's facing renewed criticism after recent news stories reveal an apparent pattern of expensive taxpayer-financed travel and potential violations of state disclosure laws.

Those who were on the fence have hopped off.

"Can he govern the last 18 months? No."

Author and history professor at Winthrop University Dr. Jason Silverman says South Carolina never's impeached a governor before.

In fact, in the last 200 years only 12 governors in the U.S. have been impeached.

The most recent.. Illinois' Governor Rod Blagojevich.

South Carolina lawmakers aren't scheduled to return to office in Columbia until January.

But some lawmakers fear if they wait till then.. impeachment will take up all their attention.. and it won't be on fixing the economy where it needs to be.

The Lieutenant Governor last week.

"Make it impossible for the state to solve the critical problems were facing without a change in leadership," says Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.

So while demonostrators have had their say in recent weeks.. pressure mounts among lawmakers to act this fall.. calling for a special session to have Sanford removed.

"Every one of these Republians.. a lot of Democrats too.. the Republicans certainly go to be every night praying that he'll just resign.. make it easy on them. I don't think this is a guy who's going to resign by any stretch of the imagination," says Dr. Jason Silverman.

Gov. Sanford proved during the stimulus fuss he's up for a fight.. he says he's not going to be railroaded out.

Any impeachment proceedings would have to start in the state House.. and right now the Speaker of the House is saying he wants an ethics investigation completed before talking about impeachment.

He may not have a choice if the recent groundswell continues.

Big question.. what kind of proof do they have for impeachment?

They say they have Sanford's own admission.. that he disappeared without telling anyone.

Sanford's critics say that's evidence of misconduct in office.