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SC Lt. Gov. Asks Sanford to Resign

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer on Wednesday said he is asking Gov. Mark Sanford to resign due to "serious misconduct" and entanglements from his affair that are preventing the state from "moving foward."

Bauer said he is willing to forego his candidacy for governor if either the Legislature or Sanford act in the next month to remove the governor from office.

Sanford has previously said he has no plans to resign. His spokesman did not immediately return a call this morning.

Bauer, who was widely expected to run for governor in 2010, is now the most prominent Republican calling for Sanford to resign. Sanford can't run again because he is limited to two terms.

Supporters of other candidates have been wary of asking Sanford to step down because they did not want to give Bauer a long-term tryout for the state's top job.

Sacrificing the run for governor next year could boost Bauer's status in the state GOP but still allow the 40-year-old plenty of time for another election. His announcement comes a day after the first formal gubernatorial campaign news conference by Republican Attorney General Henry McMaster.

Bauer has always been Sanford's lieutenant governor, but South Carolina voters choose the officials separately and the two have had a rocky relationship. Some of Bauer's friends in the Legislature are among Sanford's biggest critics and Sanford's estranged wife supported a Bauer opponent in the 2006 GOP primary.

Sanford has come under scrutiny since he returned from a nearly weeklong disappearance in June to admit he had been in Argentina visiting his mistress. His staff had been led to believe he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

In a series of investigations since the governor told The Associated Press his mistress was his soulmate, the AP has found Sanford used state plans for personal and political trips, which state law prohibits. He also failed to disclose trips on private plans that ethics officials say should have been made public in campaign and ethics filings.

An AP investigation in July showed the governor took pricey flights on commercial airlines for overseas trips despite a law requiring state employees to use lowest-cost travel. A state senator investigating those flights has said six of them broke the law and the state attorney general has called for an ethics probe.

The governor says he has done nothing wrong and claims the news organization has mischaracterized his flights on private planes. He says he flew in more expensive seats on commercial flights because he needed to be well rested on economic development trips, which other governors have done. His office also has claimed the law restricting such use is no longer valid.

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