Page last updated at 22:16 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

South Carolina Governor Sanford faces rebuke for affair

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (file image)
Mr Sanford has faced numerous calls to resign

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford who disappeared for several days in June and then admitted having an affair seems set to avoid impeachment.

A panel of lawmakers in the US state voted 6-1 against a resolution calling for his impeachment, recommending instead that he face a formal rebuke.

His visit to his Argentine mistress was embarrassing but not serious enough to remove him from office, the panel said.

This decision suggests any further impeachment moves will fail.

Ethics charges

Gov Sanford went missing for several days, with attempts to establish his whereabouts making headline news.

His staff had said he was walking on the Appalachian Trail in the east of the US, while his wife said she did not know where he had gone.

He subsequently admitted he had been on a private visit to Argentina and had been having an affair.

Mr Sanford, who had been a potential Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential elections, has faced numerous calls to step down but said he would stay in office until his term ends in January 2011.

"We can't impeach for hypocrisy. We can't impeach for arrogance. We can't impeach an officeholder for his lack of leadership skills," said state Rep James Harrison, who headed the panel looking at moves to impeach Mr Sanford.

Lawmakers recommended instead that Mr Sanford be censured for his actions.

The governor must still face a vote of the full Judiciary Committee in the South Carolina House of Representatives, but the margin of Wednesday's panel vote means impeachment is unlikely, correspondents say.

He is also facing ethics charges concerning his travel and campaign spending.

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