Lawyers for Gov. Mark Sanford have drafted a defense as lawmakers take up an impeachment resolution that could remove him from office. The ethics charges against Sanford are minor and technical. Attorneys for Sanford have done the math to make this point. According to their math, the Ethics Commission questioned just 3 percent of his flights and 2 percent of his campaign expenditures.
Disappearing is not an impeachable offense. A governor's temporary absence from the state does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense under South Carolina law. When the governor is away, power automatically transfers to the lieutenant governor, Sanford's lawyers say.
Impeachment sets a bad precedent. No S.C. governor every has been impeached. Removing Sanford, his attorneys argue, would intimidate future governors.
Impeachment is an overreaction. Sanford's attorneys say there is a high bar for impeachment that has not been met. Sanford's attorneys liken impeachment to the death penalty. They say a lesser punishment is fitting for ethics violations.