- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2009

South Carolina Republican lawmakers are on the verge of calling a special legislative session that could impeach and remove embattled GOP Gov. Mark Sanford by the end of the year, The Washington Times has learned.

GOP lawmakers will use a regularly scheduled annual retreat this weekend to discuss the fate of the governor, whose extramarital affair with an Argentine woman sparked an international scandal earlier this summer. Mr. Sanford has rejected calls to step down voluntarily, included one issued Wednesday by his own Republican lieutenant governor.

House Republicans in the state will discuss how and when to initiate impeachment proceedings against Mr. Sanford, a senior state GOP lawmaker told The Washington Times. The Republican legislators will consider whether to call for a special impeachment session of the legislature before its scheduled date for reconvening in January 2010, Rep. Gary Simrill of Rock Hill told The Times on Thursday.

For the second time in two days, the governor met with reporters Thursday to defend his conduct and to insist he would not step down. A day earlier, he vowed to stay on despite a private visit on Tuesday from two GOP allies in the House — Mr. Simrill and Rep. Nathan Ballentine — both of whom asked him to step down rather than face an impeachment fight.

Two bills of impeachment are being prepared now — one by a Republican lawmaker and the other by a Democrat, Mr. Simrill said.

• Ralph Z. Hallow can be reached at rhallow@gmail.com.

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