COLUMBIA, S.C. (CN) – Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer today asked Gov. Mark Sanford to resign. Bauer added his voice to a chorus of lawmakers calling for Sanford’s resignation in the wake of his admission he cheated on his wife and continuing media reports about his use of taxpayer funds while traveling on state business.
Bauer, who would succeed Sanford if he were to resign, called for the governor’s head at a noon news conference at the statehouse. Sanford called his own press conference for 3:30 p.m. today, to respond to Bauer.
In recent days, Sanford, who has been engulfed in a whirlpool of controversy since disappearing for five days in June, then reappearing to admit he’d been visiting his Argentine mistress, has been visiting Rotary Club chapters across the state to apologize for his misdeeds.
He has also spoken at these sessions about the things he still hopes to accomplish before the end of his term in January 2010.
But Sanford has been increasingly dogged by South Carolina media outlets for allegedly using state planes for personal and political trips and for flying first class at taxpayer expense.
Sanford responded in an op-ed blasting the coverage, then issued a written statement through spokesman Ben Fox accusing The Associated Press, which began reporting on the governor’s travel expenses last month, of being “selective in their view” of his travel.
Then came Bauer’s broadside. During his press conference, Bauer called on Sanford to consider the well-being of the state, suggesting stepping aside is the only rational decision the governor can make at this point.
If he doesn’t go on his own, Bauer said speculation and planning of the governor’s impeachment could “dominate next year’s legislative session instead of issues like the economy and job creation.”
Bauer reiterated an offer he made after the Sanford scandal broke: to not seek re-election in 2010 if Sanford steps down voluntarily.Although they appear to serve together as one administration, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately under South Carolina’s state constitution, a situation that often has led to differences of opinion between officeholders in the past.