COLUMBIA, S.C. – After nearly four hours of discussion Monday evening, leaders of the South Carolina Republican Party voted to censure Gov. Mark Sanford, reprimanding him for secretly leaving the state to visit his lover in Argentina.
While the vote reveals how the state’s GOP leadership feels about the scandal, it has no practical effect on whether the governor remains in office.
“The events of the past two weeks have been as divisive as they have been disappointing for Republicans,” party chairwoman Karen Floyd said late Monday in a prepared statement. “But today has brought a large measure of resolution to a sad chapter in our state party’s history. Republicans came together to speak with a unified voice, and now is the time for healing.”
Twenty-two committee members voted for a reprimand, 10 called for Sanford’s resignation, while nine voted to support the governor.
The governor’s spokesman, Joel Sawyer, reiterated Monday night after the vote that the governor will stay on.
Two weeks ago, Sanford’s whereabouts became a high-profile mystery as his staff struggled to explain the governor’s absence. Sanford turned off both his private cell phone and state-issued cell phone for days, according to sources familiar with his disappearance. It later was revealed Sanford went to Buenos Aires to visit his lover.
Sanford was not in regular communication with his staff and did not turn over power to the lieutenant governor while he was gone.