South Carolina's Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an ethics investigation into Gov. Mark Sanford's travel must be made public, clearing the way for lawmakers considering impeachment to review a report on the probe.
Sanford's lawyers had tried keep a report on a criminal investigation by the State Ethics Commission from being released to the House of Representatives as leaders there decide whether to move forward with impeachment efforts.
The commission's investigation was launched after Sanford returned from a five-day rendezvous with an Argentine lover in June that prompted investigations by The Associated Press into his travel practices. The AP found Sanford used state airplanes for personal and political purposes; used pricey commercial travel despite a state low-cost travel requirement; and didn't report private plane trips given by friends and donors.
Sanford's spokesman and lawyers, as well as Ethics Commission Director Herb Hayden, did not immediately respond to questions.
The governor said shortly after the investigation began that he would waive confidentiality rights, but his lawyers later argued he only intended to allow the scope of the investigation to be released. Attorneys wanted Sanford to have a chance to respond to the report before lawmakers saw it.