Disgraced S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford is aggressively recruiting candidates to run in Republican primaries against the GOP sponsors of an impeachment resolution against him, sources tell FITS. In targeting these lawmakers – including one who has supported his policies in the past – the governor is said to be “sending a message” to other Republicans who might be contemplating joining the effort to impeach him.
“It’s saying ‘back off,’” one lawmaker familiar with the governor’s recruitment efforts told FITS, noting that Sanford still has a sizable political war chest at his disposal.
Lagging for weeks, the impeachment movement picked up some steam last week when the S.C. State Ethics Commission announced that it would be moving forward with charges against Sanford. That decision was based on its preliminary investigation into his administration – an investigation which was not made public but which reportedly found that the governor broke “several” state ethics laws.
Obviously one of the lawmakers the governor is allegedly targeting, Rep. Greg Delleney, has never been a supporter of the governor and has in fact become the leading antagonist of the Sanford administration in recent weeks.
But another lawmaker reportedly in Sanford’s sights – Rep. Gary Simrill (R- York) – has been one of Sanford’s strongest allies in the state legislature for years.
Indeed, Simrill has done a lot more than just support the governor, he has “carried Sanford’s water” on multiple occasions, one State House insider told FITS.
A source close to Simrill told FITS that the alleged threat from Sanford wouldn’t change the veteran lawmaker’s approach to dealing with the impeachment process or any other issue before the General Assembly.
“Gary has supported many of Mark Sanford’s reforms since before Mark Sanford was even elected,” the source said. “He has supported them with Sanford in office, and he will continue to support them even if the governor chooses to go down this road.”
Joining Delleney and Simrill as sponsors of the current impeachment resolution are Reps. Keith Kelly and Mike Pitts, two Upstate RINOs.
Sanford’s administration came under intense scrutiny earlier this year when the governor took a secretive trip to Argentina to see his Latin lover, Maria Belen Chapur. After being caught lying about his whereabouts, Sanford later confessed to the affair.
Shortly thereafter, the governor refunded several thousand tax dollars that went to fund a prior “economic development” mission to Argentina, a trip that now appears to have been set up solely for the purpose of facilitating a liaison between Sanford and Chapur.
Multiple additional travel and campaign finance violations have been alleged, some of which may have exposed the governor to a tax liability.
Delleney’s resolution addresses only Sanford’s secret trip and the admitted dishonesty associated with it, leaving the Ethics Commission to investigate the rest.