From NBC's Mark Murray
Bobby Harrell, the Republican speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, has become the latest state GOP officeholder to call for embattled Gov. Mark Sanford (R) resign from office.
Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who would succeed Sanford in office, also has asked for the governor's resignation.
"It was with much thought and trepidation that I came to this conclusion," Harrell said in a statement. "I did so only after I spoke with colleagues in the Legislature, talked with leaders in our communities, heard from numerous citizens from across the state and carefully reviewed the facts surrounding the situation."
"What has become clear is that Governor Sanford's issues will continue to dominate our state as long as he remains in office. Whether he should be removed from office is a question that will need to be answered from the State Ethics Commission investigation, but our state's future is too important to have the Governor's issues overshadow everything we do for the next fifteen months. For the good of our state, Governor Sanford should step aside."
*** UPDATE *** Below is the full letter Harrell sent Sanford
The Honorable Marshall C. Sanford, Jr.
Governor of South Carolina
State House, First Floor
Columbia, South Carolina 29211
Dear Governor Sanford:
It is with great thought and much trepidation that I feel compelled to send you this letter requesting that you resign from the office of Governor of South Carolina. The events of the past several weeks have brought to light disturbing facts regarding your and your administration. More importantly, these events and your handling of these events have created an environment that makes it impossible for you to continue to lead our state.
The revelation on June 24, 2009, of your extra-marital affair was both shocking and disappointing. However, even more disturbing was your decision to abandon our state for five days with no known method to contact you and without notifying others of the potential need for orderly succession of power in the case of an emergency. This was at a minimum a gross misjudgment by you, and has led to calls by several members of the General Assembly for legislation to make sure that this never happens again.
After the revelations of June 24th, I felt that the following weeks would be vital to determining whether you could effectively remain as Governor of South Carolina. However, in the two plus months since you revelations, other disturbing facts have continued to trickle out relating to possible misconduct and potential violations of the state law that have occurred during your administration. These facts have led to an ongoing Ethics Commission investigation into a number of allegations against you.
The daily trickle of allegations against you has shown that there is no end in sight to the constant distractions cause by you remaining in office. The unfavorable and unending national news coverage your actions have caused is portraying our state and our government in a very negative way. Far too much time is being occupied with daily questions related to the next "Sanford Issue" and is pushing aside the ability of our state to deal with the pressing issues it faces.
Your actions have amounted to a self-inflicted wound that has forced unnecessary suffering on the people of South Carolina. This has placed tremendous stress and uncertainty on the citizens of our state at a time when we need to be focused on more important issues. South Carolina is currently facing a severe economic downturn and we should be focused on job creation, education, the state budget and health care. It is time for you to step aside so that we can get back focused on dealing with the important issues facing our state.
This is a critical time for South Carolina to have strong and effective leadership for our people. Unfortunately, the recent controversies and negative publicity surround your personal life and administration make it clear that you are not in a position to lead us in that direction. Thus, for the benefit of the people of South Carolina, I respectfully request that you resign as Governor and allow our state to close this chapter and begin anew.
Robert W. Harrell, Jr.
Speaker of the House