COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s Supreme Court says the ethics investigation into Gov. Mark Sanford’s travel can’t be kept secret.
In an opinion issued today, the state’s high court denied the governor’s request for the justices to block an investigation by the State Ethics Commission from reaching the hands of state legislators.
Sanford has asked the Ethics Commission to keep the investigation report private. The commission will not release the investigation until it has ruled on the matter.
The House, meanwhile, could investigate the same subject matter on its own, including with the use of subpoenas.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell has said lawmakers will not move forward with possible impeachment proceedings until they see the report on Sanford’s use of state planes for personal and political purposes and other travel and campaign finance issues.
Harrell's spokesman Greg Foster said the speaker was disappointed that Sanford tried to keep the investigation secret, but that Harrell is pleased with the court ruling.
Sanford's lawyer, Butch Bowers, released a statement in support of the court's decision to "preserve the confidentiality of the Commission’s investigative process" and likewise denying Harrell's request that the Ethics Commission be forced to give the House its investigatory report.
"We've fully cooperated with the Commission thus far, and we will continue to do so throughout this process. To be clear, Governor Sanford supports the public release of the full and complete Ethics report, and we believe that once all of the facts and the complete story are on the table, people will see that this Administration has consistently been a good steward for the taxpayer," Bowers said.
The commission expects to complete the investigation any day.
A representative from the ethics commission was not immediately available for comment.
Read more in Friday’s editions of The Post and Courier.