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Sanford pleased impeachment saga is mostly behind him

S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford said today it was good to get back to work without the threat of impeachment hanging over his head.

But Sanford, who held his final cabinet meeting of the year this morning, said he would not be “walking on eggshells” with state lawmakers as he finishes the remaining 13 months of his term. The two-term Republican governor said he was eager to continue work, hoped to “finish strong” and would work on having a better relationship with state lawmakers.

Wednesday, a House panel weighing Sanford’s impeachment voted 6-1 against a resolution that sought to remove the governor from office on grounds he abandoned his duties during his stealth five-day trip to Argentina in June to carry on an extramarital affair. Lawmakers instead approved unanimously a censure resolution, which formally expresses the General Assembly’s disapproval of Sanford’s actions.

“Yesterday was a very important hurdle day,” Sanford said.

The governor said he spent Wednesday night, the hours after his impeachment victory, on Sullivans Island with his family. He said he did not watch a national television broadcast of an interview with his estranged wife Jenny Sanford, who sat down with ABC News’ Barbara Walters to recount the couple’s marital difficulties and her reaction to news that Sanford had traveled to Argentina to see his lover when the world thought he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

In the interview, Jenny Sanford – who moved out of the Governor’s Mansion and to Sullivans Island this summer, leaving her husband in Columbia -- cast doubt on the couple staying together. But Gov. Sanford said he still hoped to save his marriage, understanding his actions had caused his wife great pain.

“There are hopes to reconcile,” Gov. Sanford said.

State lawmakers will meet next week and consider both the impeachment and censure resolutions. But it’s almost guaranteed the 25-member House Judiciary Committee will vote to censure Sanford.

The governor still faces 37 ethics charges. Early next year, a S.C. Ethics Commission panel will weigh whether to fine Sanford up to $74,000 for using state planes for personal trips, buying pricey airline tickets against state law and misusing campaign funds.

Sanford, again, said the alleged violations are technical and minor.

He said he hopes lawmakers will provide more clarity about what kind of airline tickets a governor can buy.

“(The law) needs to be more explicit,” Sanford said.

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