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Ethics Group Calls For Sanford Investigation

(AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford may be off the hook with his Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer, who says he will stand by Sanford for the remainder of the governor's term. But the embattled Republican, who this week acknowledged an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman, is far from in the clear.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have filed a complaint against the governor claiming that he may have violated South Carolina law. The group is asking for an investigation by the South Carolina Attorney General and the State Ethics Committee into the use of state resources for Sanford's trips to Argentina.

"The only sound decision Gov. Sanford appears to have made recently was to resign his post as chair of the Republican Governors Association," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. "Why is the governor incapable of leading the RGA, but still fit to lead the state of South Carolina? Clearly, Gov. Sanford should resign, but whatever he does, it is incumbent upon South Carolina's Attorney General and the State Ethics Commission to hold the governor accountable."

Sanford admitted Thursday that he did take a taxpayer funded trip to South America last summer, but he said he will reimburse the state, the New York Times reports.

"While the purpose of this trip was an entirely professional and appropriate business development trip," Sanford said in an e-mail statement issued by his office, "I made a mistake while I was there in meeting with the woman who I was unfaithful to my wife with."

According to the Times, The South Carolina Department of Commerce estimates the costs to be $12,000. Details of Sanford's recent disappearance to Argentina has not been released yet.

CREW also alleges that Sanford may have broken state law when he left the country without informing anybody as well as misleading his staff.

"By leaving the state without informing Lt. Gov. Bauer he had the authority to act as governor, Gov. Sanford may have endangered the state and violated the South Carolina Constitution," the statement said.

The ethics watchdog has also filed a complaint against another affair-stricken politician. FOX News reports that CREW has asked for an investigation into Nevada Senator John Ensign's affair.

CREW raises issues of discrimination on the basis of sex by the senator, as well as potentially-illegal contributions to Ensign's PAC. The group also suggests that Ensign's mistress and her husband, who both worked for the senator, may have been terminated for reasons relating to the affair.

"It appears that Senator Ensign has abused his position as a member of Congress and it's appropriate for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate that," executive director Melanie Sloan said.

Sanford has stated that he has no plans to resign as governor.

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