Governor's claims questioned in Supreme Court arguments

SC Supreme Court, site of governor’s latest showdown with the legislature

South Carolina’s highest court Monday heard arguments that may be a first for South Carolina: when a governor is investigated for ethics violations, who should get the information and what can they do with it.  The parties in the case are the governor who wants to tell his side of the story, the legislature poised to consider impeachment and the investigating panel that says the governor has waived his right to protest parts of the case. Add the fact that the case has been aired in the media for the past few months–and it creates complex problems.
As with many Supreme Court arguments, participants certainly left the courtroom with a clearer understanding of the issues as well as the truths behind the claims being made by all parties.

The state Ethics Commission has been investigating four aspects of Gov. Mark Sanford’s spending, as explained by commission attorney Cathy Hazelwood:  foreign travel, campaign finance, gifts of travel on private airplanes, and first class travel.  In spite of the governor’s argument that he should be given a chance to present, as he says, “the rest of the story,”  his attorneys have been  privy to the process already, in writing.  
Also disclosed in the proceedings, Gov. Sanford publicly waived his right to confidentiality in the entire ethics probe,while his attorneys agreed to something different behind closed doors.
The justices also addressed the role of the state legislature in all of this, in their questioning arriving at the conclusion that the House of Representatives can investigate and impeach on their own–if they choose, without waiting on the findings of the Ethics Commission. Listen as Chief Justice Toal questions Charles Reid, attorney for SC House Speaker Bobby Harrell :43