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Long calls for Sanford to resign

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Mulvaney would like governor to take 60-day leave of absence

By Chris Sardelli

State Rep. Deborah Long of Indian Land has joined the increasing list of state lawmakers who are calling for Gov. Mark Sanford to resign.

Long, R-District 45, called the situation of Sanford’s affair “over the edge” and said it would be better for the state if he resigned.

“My hope is that he does resign so we can put this mess behind us,” Long said. “It’d be best for all of us if he’d resign because an impeachment is messy, embarrassing and costly to the state. I hope he has advisors who will tell him to do it.”

Referring to Sanford’s recent week-long disappearance last month, Long used the example of how an employee would be treated if he didn’t show up to work at her business for four to five days without telling anyone.

“If they didn’t call and then just showed up, I’d say, ‘What are you doing here? You don’t work here anymore,’” she said.

Long also worried that had Sanford’s affair not come to light, his use of taxpayer money to visit his Argentinian mistress would have gone unnoticed. She also questioned whether he is still fit to run the state.

“When you find yourself in a hole, you should stop digging,” Long said. “It makes me question his mental state.”

State Sen. Mick Mulvaney, who also lives in Indian Land, has expressed disappointment in Sanford, but he’s not calling for his resignation – at least not yet.

Mulvaney, R-District 16, said he’d like for Sanford to take a leave of absence instead. Mulvaney said he’s heard that Sanford is contemplating the idea of taking a 60-day leave of office.

“This strikes me as a really good idea,” said Mulvaney, who was endorsed by Sanford in his 2008 state Senate campaign.

Mulvaney said the governor has discussed too many personal items in the news, making it difficult to make an objective decision on whether he should resign.

“He’s not acting in a rational manner so it makes it difficult to judge this in a rational matter,” Mulvaney said. “If he takes a leave, this allows us as a state to take a deep breath and figure out what to do.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 14 state Republican senators called for Sanford to resign. The group includes Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, Senate finance chairman Hugh Leatherman and  President Pro-Tempore Glenn McConnell.

Mulvaney has not signed the statement.

The statement says: “We must have strong leadership from a Governor who is focused and trusted. Governor Sanford is neither.”

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-District 27, asked for Sanford to resign Tuesday about the time the Associated Press began filing reports of what it described as an emotional, three-hour interview with Sanford.

Sheheen  is hoping to be the Democratic Party’s 2010 candidate for governor. His Senate district includes part of Lancaster County.

Getting personal

Sanford has been blasted for sharing too much personal information in the AP interview in which he called his mistress his “soulmate” and said he was working to fall back in love with his wife.

Sanford also admitted that he had “crossed the line” with other women other than the Argentine woman, though he said he never crossed “the sex line” with these women. He also admitted more encounters with the Argentine woman than he had previously disclosed.

Sanford has been facing requests that he resign since June 24 when he admitted to the affair with  the Argentine woman. He admitted to the affair after returning to the state from visiting the woman.

Sanford was gone from the state for almost six days without his security detail, his wife, Jenny, and apparently members of his staff knowing his whereabouts.

No plans to resign

Sanford’s staff has said repeatedly he has no plans to resign, and will instead finish out the 18 months in his second term.

Sanford’s office announced Tuesday that the governor will travel to Florida to be with his family for the Fourth of July weekend. They will be staying his wife Jenny’s family. She and the governor’s four sons have reportedly been there about a week.

First lady’s statement

On Thursday afternoon, the first lady released a statement about how she and her sons are doing.

She said in part:

“The last week has been very painful for me, my family and for the people of South Carolina. However, throughout this terrible ordeal, the incredible outpouring of kindness, support, and prayer I’ve received from countless friends and folks I have never even met has been truly uplifting. I appreciate that more than I can say. Please know that my sons and I are doing fine, given the circumstances.”

Jenny Sanford said again, as she did in a statement she released last week, that she is willing to work to forgive her husband and to try to save their marriage.

Use of funds

S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster had asked earlier this week for the State Law Enforcement Division to review Sanford’s spending and travel records to see if he had used any public money to visit his mistress.

On Thursday afternoon, SLED released its findings and said there was no improper use of funds.

SLED said it reviewed Sanford’s accounts, as well as several other records, but didn’t find any inconsistencies.  

Sanford has reimbursed the state for a 2008 business trip to South America, where he said he visited with his mistress. The cost of the trip totaled $3,300.

Contact reporter  Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416