Sunday, September 06, 2009
The Sanford case is about job abandonment, not planes and women
The opportunity to impeach Governor Mark Sanford might have slipped away for legislators seeking to do so. The embattled Governor clearly will not quit, and the issue of why to remove him from office has been obfuscated with airplane use questions, Ethics Commission involvement, and rumors of the sexual predilections of the Governor and his would be successor, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer.
For the people to support an impeachment, and for that impeachment to set a precedent that can be maintained without fear of weakening the office of Governor, the issue should be simple. Is it a serious act of misconduct for the Governor of South Carolina to lie even to his own chief of staff about his whereabouts and be incommunicado with the state for nearly a week? The issue is that simple. As such, it could be clearly understood.
People in the private sector know if they do not show up to work for nearly a week and do not communicate with their employers that they will be fired. In South Carolina, it is called job abandonment. You choose to not show up to work or communicate with your employer the amount of time the Governor was incommunicado, and you are assumed to have quit your job. Termination is expected and justified. It is the way the real world works.
Of course, many politicians and their consultants and aides do not understand the private sector and how the real world works. But, even they understand the role of the Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff is supposed to be the one guy the Governor can go to with his most personal of problems and expect confidence and support. The least any competent politician would do is tell his Chief of Staff how to reach him if there was a need to. By not telling even his Chief of Staff how to reach him, Sanford committed a serious dereliction of duty. Some might call that merely stupid. However, sometimes, stupidity leads to a serious act of misconduct.
Indeed, when the state of South Carolina starting making headlines on this issue and first became the butt of late night jokes, it was because our Governor was missing. It was not because of an extramarital affair or plane trips.
With the rumors about other affairs and the smearing of other politicians, added to the plane trip allegations and the soap opera like public conversation both the Governor and First Lady have had over the Governor’s affair, the crux of the issue has been lost.
If Mark Sanford is to be impeached, he should be impeached for the serious misconduct of dereliction of duty by leaving the state without telling anyone how to get in touch with him. In this age of modern communication it is inexcusable for a Governor to disappear without letting someone know how to find him or turning power over temporarily to the Lt. Governor. Cut all the sex and politics out, and it comes down to just plain old fashioned job abandonment. The average South Carolinian could never get away with such a thing. Why should Mark Sanford?