Mark Sanford escaped impeachment today with a House subcommittee vote to censure the governor for his mystery trip to Argentina this summer, but rejecting a call for impeachment. The measures will now go before the full House Judiciary next week, but a negative vote out of the subcommittee dooms any real chance for the legislature to remove Sanford from office.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell released a statement agreeing that the evidence was not enough to impeach. But, calling Sanford's actions "irresponsible, misguided, and hypocritical," Harrell made it clear that the best solution would have been for Sanford to leave on his own accord in June.
"The Governor’s actions brought great shame upon himself, his office, our state government and our citizens," Harrell said. "This entire situation — the multiple investigations, court cases and media barrage — could have been easily avoided if the Governor had acted in the best interest of our state and resigned from office, as I and a majority of lawmakers urged him to do months ago. Instead, the Governor insisted on remaining in office despite the embarrassment and distraction he has brought to our state."
The good news for Sanford comes hours before his estranged wife, Jenny, sits down with Barbara Walters for the interviewer's annual fascinating people special on ABC at 10 p.m. Jenny Sanford is getting the notable Walters nod because of her unusual response to Sanford's affair — refusing to fit the stereotypical scorned wife or the dutiful wife standing by her man.
Watch out for a possible City Paper plug. We forwarded on a few headlines from our coverage for possible use during a montage.