COLUMBIA, S.C. (CN) – It was another strange day for Gov. Mark Sanford on Thursday, which began with what many around the Capitol describe as a “bizarre” press conference, proceeded to the arrest of a self-described would-be assassin, and ended with the drumbeat of impeachment growing louder.
Sanford travelled nearly two hours from Columbia to Greenville, S.C. Thursday morning, to hold a press conference across the street from the office of state Senator David Thomas, who chairs the budget subcommittee investigating the governor’s travel expenses.
Standing before a gaggle of reporters crowded on a sidewalk and with mid-morning traffic zipping by behind him, Sanford blasted Thomas’ investigation, saying he shouldn’t be singled out for his travels in first class rather than business, as at least three of his predecessors had taken similarly pricey flights.
Sanford’s travels and travel expenditures have come under scrutiny in the wake of his five-day disappearance in June and his confession of an affair with an Argentine mistress.
“There’s something wrong with selective outrage,” Sanford said. “Let’s look at the facts. Let’s lay them out. But let’s not have what we have right now, which are a whole host of different agendas being served.”
Speaking to reporters afterward, state Senator Thomas said he “worried about the governor,” but added, “It’s his behavior that has gotten us here.”
Later, at about the time the governor was speaking before a Greenville County Republican Women’s Club luncheon, the state law Enforcement Division announced it had arrested a 39-year-old Hilton Head man who’d called Sanford’s office on Wednesday and threatened to kill him.
State spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons told Courthouse News Service that Brian Macdermant did not say why he wanted to kill Sanford. If convicted of threatening the life of a public official, he faces up to 5 years in prison.
Meanwhile, calls for the governor to step down are evolving into steps toward impeachment. Two bills of impeachment are being written, one by a Republican, one by a Democrat.
Sanford is a Republican.
Dwight Drake, a partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, said he will ask the state’s top constitutional officers to force Sanford from office.
Drake, a Democrat who has already entered the 2010 governor’s race, said he’ll call for the attorney general, secretary of state, comptroller general and treasurer to force Sanford out under a constitutional provision to remove governors unable to perform their duties.
While such a move is considered unlikely, state lawmakers are talking about a special session of the Legislature to consider Sanford’s impeachment.
Republicans in the General Assembly are gathering in Myrtle Beach this weekend for an annual retreat that all acknowledge will be dominated by the governor’s fate and discussions of whether to call a special impeachment session before the Legislature reconvenes in January.