Gov. Mark Sanford agreed Thursday to remove the last hurdle to a long-delayed House of Representatives impeachment investigation of his travel and campaign expenses.
Sanford's attorneys said they planned to turn over a disputed State Ethics Commission investigative report to the House, likely early next week. House leaders have been waiting to review the report, which has been shielded from the public, before allowing impeachment hearings to begin.
Meanwhile, Sanford reported previously unrecorded flights he took on planes owned by friends and campaign donors, said Herb Hayden, executive director of the commission.
"He provided us with information about each of those flights and requested those be included as an amendment to previous filings," Hayden said a day after the nine-member commission met in a daylong, closed-door session on Sanford. They reported they had found probable causes to move forward with charges on several issues but did not provide details. A hearing will be scheduled early next year that will have Sanford facing a panel made up of three commissioners.
Sanford lawyer Kevin Hall confirmed additional information was attached to the governor's ethics reports and said in a statement the commission concluded he hadn't broken laws with his private plane travel. Hall did not detail when the request to amend the reports was made.
On Thursday, Sanford's lawyers disclosed the commission has questioned about three-dozen instances of Sanford's travel and use of campaign funds.
Ethics investigators also reviewed Sanford's:
• Use of state planes for personal trips.
• Purchase of business-class airfare despite state rules that require the cheapest available airfare.
• Reimbursements from his campaign account around the times Sanford has admitted he met his Argentinean lover. Candidates may not use campaign accounts for personal expenses.
"The Ethics Commission concluded yesterday that Gov. Sanford has complied with all laws regarding private air travel," Sanford attorney Butch Bowers said in a statement. "In reaching its conclusion, the Commission considered publicly available information regarding the governor's previously disclosed travel, which unequivocally establishes that the governor's use of private planes was in compliance with the law. Further, Gov. Sanford requested that, upon final disposition of this matter, this publicly available information be attached to his previously filed Statements of Economic Interest and campaign disclosure forms."
Bowers said he would turn the report over to the House once the Ethics Commission released a notice of hearing, which will set the date of Sanford's hearing and list the charges. Hayden said the agency hoped to release that document Monday.
One sponsor of the House impeachment resolution, Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, said the special impeachment panel could meet before Thanksgiving.
Sanford and the House have been at odds over the report for months, even asking the S.C. Supreme Court to decide who could review the records. Thursday, House Speaker Bobby Harrell called on Sanford, who Harrell pointed out has always championed transparency, to allow the House to review the report.
Lawmakers introduced a resolution this week charging Sanford with abandoning his duties when he took a secret five-day trip to Argentina to meet his lover.