Speaker Bobby Harrell releases statement

Dear Friend,

This has been a difficult week.  Frankly, it has been a very difficult few months.  We have so much we need to be doing for you, the people of our state, and yet everywhere I go, it seems all everyone wants to talk about is Governor Sanford's actions and "what are you going to do about it?"  Our state needs to get off of these Governor Sanford issues and get onto issues that really matter to our citizens like business and industry recruitment and job creation.  We need to deal with the fact that our unemployment rate is among the worst in the country.

I wanted to send you this message to address some of the news that you have seen this week and express to you why I believe our actions have been in the best interest of our state.

Earlier this week, I sent a letter to Governor Mark Sanford and 61 (over 85%) of my fellow House Republican Caucus colleagues also sent a letter respectfully requesting his resignation from office because of how the situation he has created is preventing us from addressing the serious issues facing our state.  These letters came after much thought and after many conversations with our constituents back home and with leaders all over our state. These weekly new revelations about Governor Sanford and the constant distraction of his problems are hurting our state.  We cannot afford the time it takes to deal with these issues he has caused when there are so many more important issues that need our attention.

Over the last two plus months, I have watched carefully and have not expressed my opinion on what the Governor should do.  During this time, what has become painfully clear is that Governor Sanford is not in a position to lead our state for the next 16 months.    What we need is a laser beam type focus on our state's economy, and what will happen while he remains in office will be distraction after distraction about his issues.

When we return to Columbia in January, the Democrats will bring his problems up daily because it is to their political advantage to do so, and no matter what we try to say or do, they will be determined to keep all of this in the news right up through November.  If the Governor steps aside, they won't be able to do that, and we will be able to keep the discussions on the issues that matter.

The decision on whether the General Assembly should take any legislative action on this should wait for the SC Ethics Commission to complete its investigation.  That is a discussion and debate that needs to wait until that time, but that is a totally different question than whether the Governor is capable of leading our state with all of these issues surrounding his every move.  I believe that Governor Sanford should voluntarily step aside for the good of our state and let us get focused on these issues that matter to you.

Governor Sanford's decision to abandon our state for five days, with no defined order of succession and with no known way to contact him, was inexcusable.  And while the unending allegations of the past few weeks have raised even more unanswered questions, the immediate result has been one of insecurity about our state's future and has placed tremendous stress on our citizens at time when we need to be focused on more important issues.

Over the past few weeks, I have heard from many of you and I fully appreciate the great disappointment and concern you have expressed about these allegations.

South Carolina needs strong and effective leadership to address these pressing issues facing our state.  However, the continued distractions brought on by Governor Sanford's self-inflicted wounds have proven that he is not in a position to lead us in that direction.  If Governor Sanford remains in office, too much time will be spent overcoming these obstacles instead of dealing with the important issues facing us.  For the good of our state, Governor Sanford should step aside.

Your opinion and thoughts on this matter are very important to me; please do not hesitate to write me or call my office.  Any input you may have on how best we can move our state forward will be invaluable as we continue to deal with this issue.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email.  Hopefully Governor Sanford will make the right decision and our next correspondence will be about the progress we are making.


Bobby Harrell

Speaker, S.C. House of Representatives