The members of the South Carolina House of Representatives voted yesterday to censure Governor Mark Sanford for his recent breach of public trust best described as secret trips to see his Argentine mistress and improper use of state aircraft. In a 102-11 vote, the House condemned the Governor for bringing "dishonor, disgrace, and shame not only upon [himself] but upon this State and its citizens..."
Unfortunately for the hard work and good intentions of the House in appropriately slapping the Governor on the wrist, reports say the censure is likely to get bogged down in the state Senate or even die in committee. If that is the case, House members are prepared to let their resolution stand on its own. However, Rep. Harry Ott, the leader of the South Carolina House Democrats, said he would like to wait and see what the Senate does.
The censure itself has no practical effect, unlike an impeachment would, but Mark Sanford is the first governor in at least 130 years to be censured by the state's House of Representatives.
What might have some effect are the ethics charges Sanford still faces over his use of state aircraft, travel on commercial airlines and improper reimbursements; he could face fine of up to $74,000. S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster is also looking into possible criminal charges.
Some have commented on the strange text of the censure stating the shame the Governor's actions have brought on the state, "... rises to a level which requires a formal admonishment and censure." An even odder formality, wrapping up the entire sorry episode, are the final lines: "Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to Governor Sanford." Bet he's already heard about it.