If it were up to the people instead of the politicians, Mark Sanford already would be out of the governor's office.
Unfortunately, it is up to the politicians, and Sanford's fate is controlled by a very few politicians, against the wishes of many and against the best interest of our state.
Now, more than ever, the people of South Carolina need real leadership to help solve the unemployment crisis we face. As of August, there were 258,465 unemployed South Carolinians. These families are desperate for jobs now - not 15 months from now. They need a governor who will help them, not hinder them.
Last month, Rep. Bill Sandifer, chairman of the House Labor Commerce and Industry Committee, wrote to Gov. Sanford: "I have spoken to numerous business and industrial leaders across the state and nation as well as a few foreign countries. In each of these conversations, business leaders have told me that if you continue to serve as Governor, it will be a giant impediment to any company locating in our state."
It is the governor's responsibility to recruit industry to our state. Mark Sanford is actually driving businesses away. So why hasn't our Legislature taken steps to remove him?
Because our state's laws allow one or two people to control this most important decision. Acting together, the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore can call the Legislature into session to begin the process. If either one of these wants to delay the process, he can do so.
Therefore, to thwart the apparent will of the people and the Legislature, the governor needs only to persuade one person to delay, to stall, in hopes of riding out the storm - without consideration of the needs of more than a quarter of a million unemployed South Carolinians.
Apparently that is exactly what has happened. Despite public commitments to not let the "Sanford problem" create a distraction during the 2010 session of the Legislature, legislative leaders have delayed taking action.
While the speaker of the House and others claim they are awaiting findings from the Ethics Commission, they know full well that the Ethics Commission has no jurisdiction to investigate dereliction of duty or misconduct in office. By law, the Ethics Commission can investigate only violations of the ethics and campaign finance laws. The state constitution gives sole authority to the House of Representatives to determine, based on an entirely different standard, if the governor should be impeached. So why is it waiting for the Ethics Commission?
Only the House has any authority to determine whether Sanford's dereliction of duty in secretly leaving the country for five days is an impeachable offense. Sadly, the House leadership seems to be passing the buck.
Never in recent history has there been a more compelling reason for the people of South Carolina to take action to correct this flaw in our system.
It is time for South Carolina to join the 30 states that allow voters to recall elected officials by way of a citizens' petition. It is time to dismantle South Carolina's "let's make a deal" good-old-boy system once and for all.
That is why I, along with others, have launched an effort to amend our state's constitution to give voters the right to recall elected officials for serious misconduct in office. Whether Sanford's political power plays are successful in keeping him in office or not, we can never allow this situation to occur again.
We expect this to be a hard-fought battle. Some elected officials will not relinquish their power and give voters the right to recall them. This is a battle that must be won at the ballot box, by electing new legislators who will support the right of the people to recall.
I call on the citizens of South Carolina to join this non-partisan effort to remind all incumbent officials that they work for us - not the other way around.
In recent years, there has been discussion about restructuring state government to shift the balance of power between the Legislature and the governor. It is time to shift the balance of power away from the legislative branch and the executive branch - back to the people, where it belongs.
The Legislature's inability to remove Mark Sanford from office is all the evidence we need.