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. A Canadian Bogeyman

    Stutter! Stutter! With a mouthfull of Butter. Your dribbling...

    August 11, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. Linda in Los Angeles

    Dear Mr Sanford,
    Your speak just emphasized one of the most obvious problems in govt today: using what everyone else does to justify what you do/have done. Your behaviour on a few fronts has been less than stellar and you opened yourself up to magnified scrutinization. Quit blaming everyone else for your problems and quit justifying your wrong behaviour by acting like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar after older sibling had already grabbed one and ran. Grow up, wise up, fess up and clean up! That goes for all you other govt officials also. It is sickening to see how most of our so called officials act before and behind the camera/media.

    August 11, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Sweep Around UR Own Door!

    Why this man is still allowed to keep his public seat amazes me. How can a public official be allowed to use the tax payers money to cheat on his family and still keep his job?

    August 11, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Nathan,

    Sanford,
    It got to the point of being absurd when while refusing money to help the poor people in your state it turns out you were spending lots of state money on trips that could have cost less. You are the biggest hypocrit since the last holier than thou Republican. You should resign and move to Argentina to be with you (soul mate). The only reason your wife won't drop your sorry butt is because she cares about your boys which is more than anyone can say about you. With your wife out of the mansion how long before you sneak off to Argentina for a little rendevous. If the voters of SC had any sense and thats a maybe at best they would see to it that you had plenty of time to visit Argentina.

    August 11, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. barrystash

    I do not understand CNN's fascination with this man. It is a mere trifiling compared to Teddy Kennedy. A more enjoyable expose would be for you to outline Teddy's life long string of indiscretions and how that may be positioning him for his impending and unpleasant meeting with his maker.

    August 11, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. Island girl

    The whole scenario is pathetic. The governor is spilling his guts and is trying to be as forthcoming as he possibly can but I want to know who is seeing to SC's welfare in the midst of all of this. If he refuses to step aside right now then I think he should at least opt for some time out to gather his thoughts and deal with his personal life. Just get your deputy to hold the fort for you sir and get some tea bags for that sagging under-eye area!

    August 11, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. marcus (seattle)

    i have to admit i do NOT understand these politicians who barked the loudest regarding other's infidelities insisting on remaining in office once they have been exposed as cheating hypocrites... and then to imply in ANY way that it's the media perpetuating this firestorm in their lives ??? lol... the firestorm is your hypocrisy... there have been plenty of unfaithful politicians who did not spark a media frenzy... you sparked it by your hypocrisy.. now, the right thing to do, is vacate your office, a la sarah palin (for different reasons.. so she could BECOME the media !!!) til then, mr sanford, you have the reasonable expectation that the media and your own state legislature will hound you..

    August 11, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Matt

    Yeah this is still news CNN. Keep up the good work. Way to stay focused on what is important.

    August 11, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Bill

    I sure am getting tired of hearing about this guy. If he believes what he says, he must be delusional.

    August 11, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. eddie

    Well, the Governor is a member of "The Family". The pseudo-Christian organization that believes that they are God's chosen people and are above the rules of non-members. They believe that to be in power, either in government or business, is God's will. So, Sandford isn't going anywhere if he can help it.

    August 11, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. alison

    It's getting to the point, unfortunately, or already has, that the morale regarding politicians and believing ANYTHING they say is questionable at BEST!! We have a racist President that already stuck his foot in his mouth and REacted impulsively regarding the ignorant and truly immature harvard professor who created the chaos he was in...and we have politicians left and right, not matter what state, country or background lying about using state issued anything and taking advantage of it all; cheating on their wives and taxes and wherever else they can manipulate; and stealing from the government they espouse to uphold in trust, faith and service. So the average American, other than it being sensationlism and cheap entertainment, no one is surprised and furthermore, who cares!!!

    August 11, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. Richie

    What a loser. I wonder what the Argentinian lady sees in this jerk.

    August 11, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. SM

    Seems awful funny that his wife would move out of the gov. mansion and leave the Gov. by himself.

    He denies divorce but those of us who know any better, can read between the lines.

    August 11, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. TH

    Mr. Sanford's personal business is not any of ours. Being the scum he is what happens to him will be determined by his wife. He deserves what he gets. America needs to leave him alone and go ahead and bring in the next Governor of South Carolina.

    August 11, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. zach

    He must be fighting his inner demons–he's aged a lot in the past couple months.

    August 11, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Frank, Las Vegas

    Is it just me or does this sound like more lies from the wing-nut? He cheated on his wife and he cheated the state. The people of SC need to show him the door. Just because he got caught doesn't mean he'll change. This way out sir.

    August 11, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Jefe

    Yes, Mark, it does become absurd. That's why, in a position of importance in the service of the People, you're supposed to stay out of situations which could lead to blackmail, embarassment, etc. This is why it was a big deal when Clinton was found out, and the rash of gay, anti-gay Republicans.

    August 11, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. HSNP

    Hang in there Governor. Don't give up. Keep dragging your corrupt, rotten Republican Party down. Good Job.

    August 11, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. concerned citizen

    Mr. Sanford was the poster child of fiscal conservatives, he painted himself as the ultimate hero that will save us from the tax and spend ideology of the democrats, he was the first to point finger to President Clinton for his sexual escapades and finally the front runner that will liberate us from the socialist ideas of President Obama.
    What a HYPOCRIT!!, But what is most important he has gotten away with everything. South Carolina residents use your brains, impeach him and kick him out of the governorship for the benefit of the state and the country

    August 11, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. Claudia in Houson

    I think he divorced his wife when he committed adultry with his "soul mate". I wouldn't live with a man knowing I wasn't his "soul mate" when it's obvious he went looking for the chosen one. This man is a nut case.

    August 11, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  21. Bluebonnet

    I wish he would do the right thing by his state and his wife!! Loser!

    August 11, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. Doug, New Jersey

    "Ya the blood is in the water alright. The problem for you is, the political party coming after you is your own Republican party"

    This is true, yet you cannot find one example of Democrats not fully 100% standing up for murderers, child molesters, much less the cheaters like Mark here who have a little D next to their name.

    That's the difference, it is a major one.

    August 11, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. ch

    But this right wing whack job hypocrite wanted Bill Clinton impeached.

    Sanford is just another in a loooonnnng line of GOP, self righteous, crazy, small minded hypocrites who hides behind religion to justify their own ignorance.

    August 11, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. dave

    Regardless, Governor Liar Cheat Hypocrite, of whether anything is politically motivated, YOU criticized previous politicians for 'flying first class at the taxpayer's expense".
    that makes you aa hypocrite, same as when you criticized CLinton for cheating and called for him to strep down...you are a hypocrite again.
    Hypocrites just keep on lying and defending themselves because 'they are special"
    Go back to the C Street combination Brothel/PrayerHouse where lying is a way of life.

    August 11, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  25. Shirl

    A textbook narcissist!

    August 11, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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