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Probe sought for Sanford's state plane use

South Carolina's top prosecutor and legislative leaders called Thursday on the State Ethics Commission to investigate Gov. Mark Sanford's use of state planes and other resources.

However, critics questioned whether that commission — which normally works in secret, is appointed by Sanford and includes donors to his campaign — is up to the task.

In a letter to the Ethics Commission, Attorney General Henry McMaster said media reports "suggested there may be violations of the State Ethics Act by Governor Mark Sanford."

Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell and House Speaker Bobby Harrell, both Charleston Republicans, echoed the call by McMaster, a Columbia Republican who is expected to announce next week that he will be a candidate to succeed Sanford in 2010.

Sanford, a Charleston Republican, has been under fire since he disappeared for five days in June and, later, admitted an extra-marital affair.

A review of travel expenses showed Sanford had flown in expensive business-class seating. State law forbids use of first-class tickets; regulations require "coach or tourist class" airfare. Additionally, The Associated Press reported Sanford used state planes for personal or political travel, a possible violation of state law.

Sanford has said he used state planes less than his predecessors and, traditionally, governors have used business-class tickets when flying overseas.

But Sanford also reimbursed the state $3,300 for airfare for an economic development trip to Argentina, where he met his lover.

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.

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