August 11th, 2009
08:51 PM ET
5 years ago

Sanford defends expensive travel, denies divorce

Sanford flew in style on two international flights in 2006 and 2007.
Sanford flew in style on two international flights in 2006 and 2007.

(CNN) – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford defended his trips on expensive international flights on Tuesday and said that a state Senate probe into his foreign travel is driven by a politically-motivated "feeding frenzy."

Sanford also told reporters that he and his wife Jenny - who moved out of the governor's mansion in Columbia last week - are not getting a divorce.

Sanford's travel has come under increased scrutiny since he admitted an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman in June. A state law enforcement probe in June found that the governor did not use state money while carrying on his affair.

But on Monday, Republican state Sen. David Thomas concluded an investigation that found Sanford violated South Carolina regulations by billing the state for business and first-class seats on international flights during trade missions in 2006 and 2007. South Carolina law requires state officials to purchase seats for the lowest available fare. Thomas told CNN that Sanford's actions could be grounds for impeachment when the legislative session begins in January.

Sanford, speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting Tuesday, said that the state Department of Commerce purchases tickets and argued that other South Carolina governors had flown business and first class when traveling overseas in the past. He said that if Thomas was really concerned about his travel practices, he should have called the governor's office instead of simply releasing the results of his investigation to the media.

"I did wrong, I messed up and there are consequences for that," Sanford said, referring to his affair. "But at some point it gets to the point of the absurd, where in political terms people smell blood in the water, and they keep coming and coming and coming."

Sanford contended that flying business class on international flights allowed him to rest before important meetings set up to attract business to the state. "Did folks really want this governor or some other governor to fly in, go to some meetings in Rome, and look haggard in the process?," he asked.

The embattled governor also responded to an Associated Press investigation that revealed he used state planes for personal and political travel within South Carolina. Sanford said he has flown on state planes less than previous administrations. "We're not perfect," he said.

He said that some taxpayer-funded travel may have appeared personal, because he often tried to include his four boys on trips when it fit with his official schedule.

Sanford said that some of the claims in the story - for example, that he took a flight from Myrtle Beach to Columbia simply to get a haircut - were taken out of the context of his full daily schedule. He noted that he went to get the haircut not at a fancy salon, but at the chain "Great Clips."

Towards the end of the press conference a reporter asked if he and his wife were getting a divorce.

Sanford said no.


Filed under: Extra • Mark Sanford • Popular Posts • South Carolina
soundoff (238 Responses)
  1. Wanderer

    I don’t hate Mr. Sanford. I pity him. Look at his face folks! He does not look he is happy at all. He is not the only hypocrite on earth, though. They are all over the world. Let leave it to his party to decide his fate and the party’s fate. This is a good lesson for all of us. I have learned that 90% of people who preached morality were hypocrites. What do those people think who they are? Words from bible can never change a rock into a diamond. It can only make the rock believes it is diamond. It’s the worst of the worst and very, very dangerous. So, I think Mr. Sanford, like a lot of other hypocrites, is a victim of his own delusion that was planted into his head by his religion.

    August 11, 2009 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  2. Mike in Colorado

    Brazen it out, Governor! That's the Republican way -from Nixon and Spiro Agnew, to Watergate, to Iran Contra, to Bush 43, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney. Look them in the eye and BS with a straight face. Never apologize or admit anything! Or take a page from Bil Clinton... Lie and dissemble. When they get you cornered say "IN MY MIND, flying to South America for sex wasn't really sex, nor was it really flying at public expense". Do nothing else.Impeachment attempts usually fail. Then write your memoirs for a few million dollars advance!

    August 12, 2009 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  3. Sarah in SC

    I live in SC and everyone I know here is hoping and praying for resignation/impeachment/imprisonment. He is a HORRIBLE embarrassment to our state.

    August 12, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  4. nea-nea

    Well all i have to say about this be careful what you do in the dark because it will come to the light!

    August 12, 2009 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  5. wisconsin mom

    Sanford...please just GO AWAY! Resign and go to Argentina to live with your "SOUL MATE" ! HAHAHAHAHA!

    August 12, 2009 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  6. Proud American

    I guess you would have to be a God Loving, Family Values Preaching Unfaithful Republican to understand.

    August 12, 2009 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  7. kasera

    come on! lets all grow up and get over it! leave the man alone if he had cheated so what and who cares? it is his private life. aboute the air fare, do you expect the governor to fly economy class??

    August 12, 2009 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  8. Bill of Florida

    Did King David really really repent or did he give lip service?

    August 12, 2009 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  9. JB in Wisconsin

    Come on CNN. Your going to have to come up with something better then this to take the heat of the chosen one on health care!!

    August 12, 2009 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  10. Jon

    David Thomas is the latest in the string of turncoat Republicans who put their own ambitions ahead of party loyalty. It's pretty transparent that he wants the Governor's job and will do anything to get it. Next he will change parties like Arlen "I'll do anything to keep my job" Spector.

    August 12, 2009 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  11. Joe Values

    How typical, a good old "family Values" politician, riding on the taxpayers backs, flying down to rendevous with is mistress on our dime, under the guise of "foreign relations". Yeah, mucho caliente foreign relations. What a hypocrite! Some one tell this bozo, do the right thing and just resign. America does not need anymore of this drivel.

    It is amazing how many of these "I'm for family values" guys end up drowning themselves in self-destructive, I'm above the law arrogance. Thank God, not everyone shares this clown's family "values".

    August 12, 2009 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
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