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. Harriett

    If he weren't so smug and sanctimonious I might have a little pity for him. He doesn't do anything to help the poor in one of the poorest states in the country. He sends his 4 children to private schools while not wanting to accept stimulus money to help the state's public schools which are some of the worst in the country. Compassionate conservative? Seems I've heard that one before. No thanks. He is a heartless idiot.

    By the way, an SC website today revealed that the reason his wife moved out is because he refused to stop seeing the woman in Argentina! Guess he really has his family's and his state's best interests at heart

    August 11, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  2. Elaine

    Mr Sanford, I guess you don't like it much now that the shoe is on the other foot. You are a disgraced to your state and its people and you fit right in with the digraceful Republican party. Remember, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. You should have known that your day would someday come when you "smelled blood in the water" during President Clinton's mess. I feel no pity for you at all and you're getting EVERYTHING that you DESERVE. Peace out.

    August 11, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Tony

    we the people of SC are praying for you Gov. Sanford – but its probably not what you what – Please resign today and let us get to work on our state and our record high unemployment rate.

    Please resign today.

    August 11, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. feel the heat

    After the divorce Gov, Sanford can pursue the love of his life, that is if he has any money left.

    August 11, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. m jeff

    Why don't this right wing do the right thing and resign.

    August 11, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Texas Reader

    Just go back to your new-found soul-mate and get out of our faces. Who would believe anything he says now? He has shown his true colors, no more coverups....You are what you are!!!!

    August 11, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. Romy

    Jenny Sanford moved out of the mansion but they're not getting a divorce?

    Denial is not a river in Egypt, Governor

    August 11, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. Tim from Oregon

    This guy howled so loud when President Clinton was cheating on his wife. Family values and all. He said Clinton should step down, yet he won't step down. I am just glad this has finished his presidential efforts. Now there are three Republicans that are exposed for the fakes on family values they are. Sen. Vitter, Sen. Engle, and now Gov. Sanford. They hid behind the Lords name and the Lord has let them be exposed for the phoneys they were. There is still time to act with dignity like the Dem. Governor of N.Y. and step down.

    August 11, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  9. BFD

    Don't know, don't want to know, don't care about this pathetic jerk.

    CNN don't lose your focus on debunking the right wing lies or the left wing easy answers about health care reform. If you printed the facts about these as often as you printed stuff about this clown, the people would be better informed. Thank you.

    August 11, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. TKW-New Mexico

    WHO CARES!! He is a phony hypocrite anyway. He abandoned his state just like another well known Repug (Palin). Why is anyone suprised. I don't care about his personal life, except when it affects his job as Governor.

    August 11, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Wolves 4 Palin Charlotte, NC

    If S.C. wants to keep this idiot, then, they deserve him....

    August 11, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  12. sally

    Unreal. What a shameful excuse. It's OK for him to travel first class, because everyone else is doing it too? This is what passes for ethics? Taxpayers deserve better representation than this. His wife and kids deserve better.

    August 11, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. Jay

    Sir, Your personal indiscretions are none of my business but......These are facts. You're a CHEAT (You cheated on your wife.) You're a LIER (You lied to the people of South Carolina about where you were.) You're a THIEF (You misused State vehicles for personal use.) You should resign...

    August 11, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  14. Keith

    Wow. Now that's a Republican that can't see the writing on the wall, even if it smacks you in the face. Get out and let the people of SC get their state back in order. Nobody is defending you and your own party is trying to impeach you. You are kidding yourself if you think you should stay.

    August 11, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. Simmy

    In the greater scheme of things his political career is over......His personal life is his business......Either make him pay the money back, impeach him, or shut up.....

    August 11, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. CHBIII

    Sanford's career is over and he will have to find a new one, maybe one in Argentina.

    August 11, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. ginny from Canada

    So does this mean his dreams for the White House are over?

    August 11, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. Sgt. USMC

    I thought they were talking about Sarah Palin when I read the headline. It's the unfaithful gov. part that made me think so.

    August 11, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. kimberly

    As poor as our state is, and he's taking from us, should show the world what kind of guy he is. What has this man done for our state? Nothing good comes to my mind. We needed someone to work for the people of SC.

    August 11, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. Elaine

    I bet John Ensign is happy and praying that Mark Sanford keeps on talking...takes the spotlight off of him for now. On the other hand, I'm sure Sarah Palin is mad as all hell because Sanford won't shut up and he's taking the spotlight away from her. Those Republicans...I swear, you never know what they want because they can never make up their minds. Settle down Sarah, you'll get that spotlight back on you very soon...just as soon as you open your mouth and say something stupid and untrue.

    August 11, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. Bev - NYC

    Now he's a victim of a political witch hunt, poor baby, small violin playing a sad song. There is one way to shut everyone up Governor, man up and RESIGN. Have one of your cronies in C street or Cubby find you a do nothing consulting job, lay low with your soul mate and come back as a policy talking head on Fox, they have Dick Morris why not you. This slow death by a thousand cuts has to be affecting your day to day job performance, no matter how you try to put a happy face on it.

    August 11, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  22. Ted

    Had David Thomas contacted the governors office instead of releasing the data, the governors office would have done the politically expedient thing and covered up the issue and no one would have been the wiser.

    How come this lying sack of manure governor hasn't been fired yet? It is worse than Illinois.

    August 11, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  23. randy california

    Oh yea he should go...and so should all of these other "high moral" repubicans.

    August 11, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  24. Ellie

    He will be happier in Argentina if he decides to go.

    August 11, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Bertha

    I've been emailing and calling for his resignation not because of the affair, but because of his misuse of taxpayer monies and the fact that he just disappeared without acting responsibly toward our state. He's been on THREE vacations recently. This last one was a two week European trip. During that time, I called his office and asked why he wasn't in SC working to get the stimulus money out to help the people of this state. I can't list one single thing that he's done to help our state and its people. I didn't vote for him or Graham or DeMint, and I'm sick of all of them! They all need to go! All three of them are arrogant, narcissistic, jerks! Maybe when they are out of office, "The Family" will pat them on the head and tell them that they're still God's gift to the world. I can hear "The Family" now. "Everyone else just doesn't understand.....but then all others are just peasants anyway so it doesn't really matter what they think." It's past time for them to go. Come on fellow peasants. Let's get rid of them. I'm an Independent. I'm going Democrat!

    August 11, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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