COLUMBIA, S.C. (CN) – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford this afternoon described ongoing calls for his resignation “pure politics” and declared that he’s “not going to be railroaded out of office by political opponents.”
Sanford’s remarks, made in a letter to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and read to members of the press this afternoon, came just hours after Bauer called for the embattled governor’s resignation.
Sanford 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. Since then he’s also 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.
Bauer today said if Sanford doesn’t step aside now, speculation and planning of the governor’s impeachment could “dominate next year’s legislative session instead of issues like the economy and job creation.”
The Lt. Governor reiterated an offer he made after the Sanford scandal broke: to not seek re-election in 2010 if Sanford steps down voluntarily.
But Sanford isn’t budging.
He opens his letter by thanking Bauer for his offer to step in and serve out the remaining 16 months of his term.
“To escape the glare of television cameras and reporters in the midst of a media frenzy would not be far from some form of heaven on earth,” Sanford writes. “But,” he quickly adds, “my Dad taught me a long time ago that two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Sanford goes on to admit that in his attempt to be “transparent” after the June 24th admission of his affair, he’s said “more on that relationship than I think even the public wanted to know.”
His personal moral failure, the governor says, has its own consequences, “past, present and future.”
Despite this, Sanford said while it would be easier to simply move on with his life, and “not contest the sensational charges against our administration’s handling of public fund, it would be wrong.”
Sanford said the charges are based on “very incomplete” picture presented in media reports.
“I also believe that given the constitutionally weak state of the governorship in South Carolina. It would be wrong to simply go back to the farm and take refuge given the implications for future governors.”
Although they appear to serve together as one administration, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately under South Carolina’s constitution, a situation that often has led to differences of opinion between officeholders in the past.