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The details of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's secretive trips to visit his lover in South America aren't just headline fodder or political kryptonite.
They're also being scrutinized by law enforcement officials at the request of some lawmakers and watchdog groups who fear taxpayer money could have been misused on his affair. So far, no criminal investigation has been opened.[...]
But the furor over Sanford's trip is mushrooming. Critics called on the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate state spending on the trip and whether Sanford broke laws by leaving on his latest visit to Argentina last Thursday without turning control over to the lieutenant governor. His staff told people who asked that he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
"We also have to worry about whether this is the tip of the iceberg. We don't know what else is out there. We don't know what's going to come out tomorrow. We don't know what's going to come out next," said state Sen. Jake Knotts R-West Columbia.[...]
Also calling for inquiries were the state chapter of government watchdog Common Cause and the Washington-based nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, which directed its request to the state ethics commission.[...]
"We all have things in our personal life that we don't want to shine under the spotlight," said Buck Limehouse, head of the state's transportation department. "There's nothing to be accomplished by rehashing this over and over. The needs of the people of South Carolina are more important than the personal issues."
Not everyone in the capital is being as kind. Knotts encouraged other legislators to call for Sanford's resignation and urged him to "do the right thing" and step down voluntarily.
Joining the calls for resignation was a one-time ally, the head of the group that's pushed Sanford's school choice effort. If Republicans are going to criticize Democrats for moral failings, Sanford has to go, said Randy Page, president of the conservative advocacy group South Carolinians for Responsible Government.
Adding to Sanford's 'family-values' hypocrisy we now have a possible criminal investigation into the governor's handling of taxpayer funds for personal use.
What Sanford hopes to gain by dragging all of this out isn't clear. He clearly isn't innocent of wrongdoing -- he's already admitted that he used taxpayer money to visit his sweetheart in Argentina.
Why doesn't he just resign now? It's inevitable that he will resigns -- this pattern is oft-repeated, sadly. I guess that he feels his political career is over anyway, so why not stay in power as long as possible.
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