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. Broken hearts and people

    I do feel sorry for Mark Sanford. IF in fact he has found his soul mate (and yes Virginia, there is such a thing) and thinks he will ever get his life back togeather in South Carolina he will find out that's not the way it will happen. He truely looks like a broken man and really needs to go to his lady love and be happy. He certainly isn't going to make his current wife happy, not now, not ever after.. The people of South Carolina have many other politicians to choose a gov. from and Mark Sanford only has one soul mate. Cut to the chase Mark.. Go to her in her country and live in peace... LET the rest of us live in peace too.

    August 11, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  2. kishen c.rao

    This one is a Republican Drama....Enough messing the nation....ok...

    August 11, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. Ursella

    If jenny were smart, she'd divorce the moron and take him for everything he's got......his Senate position.

    August 11, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Evil always eats itself in the end. Looks like this Thomas guy is willing to step on Sanford's political corpse to go for governor himself. Who wants to wager on him running when it comes time?

    August 11, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  5. CovenBone

    If I had to talk about this guy, and give my opinions on him and his story. I would have 23 hrs. and 57 mins left in the day with which to masturbate.

    Cover something else CNN.

    August 11, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  6. Georgia

    The newest photos of his soulmate show what an arrogant , self lover Mark Sanford is. She looks exactly like him! He is in love with a female version of himself. If I were his wife I'd be pissed he used family $ for his affair not the governments. South Carolina is a beautiful state that is suffering terribly in this bad economy, he should step down so others can get to work. This guy is too much of a narcisist to do anything to benefit anyone other than himself. Also how cruel his tearful interview was to his wife and kids and to be with his girlfriend on father's day, what a loser!

    August 11, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  7. Linda

    His wife should divorce him for having such a big mouth. Can't this guy learn to just SHUT UP???? How dumb does a politician have to be???

    August 11, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. C W

    Who cares? He's a scumbag cheating husband. He should simply resign and go live with his Agentinian squeeze and stay out of the public eye.

    August 11, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  9. OBSERVER

    Maybe he should follow Palin's GREAT example and just STEP DOWN

    August 11, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  10. JonDie

    This is South Carolina's problem, the rest of us could care less about Sanford.

    August 11, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  11. Sandra Day

    Stick it to 'em Sanford. Stay the course. The conservatives just want you out of the way so they can go around claiming how superior and moral they are to everyone else.

    August 11, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  12. Linda

    And another thing.....his little Argentinian sweetie isn't going to find him very attractive as he's losing his power and shooting off his mouth! Soul mate???? Very funny....see how long he lasts with her after this disaster! His appeal was his power..THAT'S ALL!!!

    August 11, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  13. mtv

    Do the American People Justice and Step Down Fool!!!!!!!!!

    August 11, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  14. reality check

    Jenny knows enough to zip it and allow Mark's hoof-in-mouth disease to settle the score. He has publicly succeeded in totally exposing himself thus, "The Emperor, Marcus of Dufus, has no clothes!"

    August 11, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  15. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Gov MIA should hide his face in shame...In fact, he should do the right thing and RESIGN! What a weasel!

    August 11, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  16. Have Mercy

    You have lost the trust of the people you govern. You have lost the trust of your family. Now that you are frequently scrutinized in the media, your wife and sons are being forced to relive the public embarassment, humiliation and pain that you have caused them. Haven't they been through enough? Allow them to heal. Do the right thing. Resign.

    August 11, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  17. getreal2

    Deny the divorce rumors now, buddy, but it's just around the corner.

    August 11, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  18. Christine

    Classic do as I say, not as I do Republican.

    August 11, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  19. jeremy

    You libs are all the same. Your boy Bill Clinton was just as moral...and you forget about that. Don't put all repubs in the same group as the strays.

    August 11, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  20. Blue

    How on earth will he ever get the poor me doggy look off of his face?
    When one gets caught, the poor me comes out. Of course, his wife is leaving him. She is a smart person, and she will not put up with this mess.

    August 11, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Malcolm

    one republican fly down someone hand me a fly swatter please so I can get the other nuts.

    August 11, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  22. Bernard

    Why is what Sanford has done any different then what these congressmen and congresswoman are doing by flying off (with their spouses no less) to places all over the earth?

    August 11, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  23. Karl Marx

    All you rightards stop calling president Obama a socialist. He is about as socialist as Dwight Eisenhower. Look up socialism in the dictionary, and realize that Party Chariman limbaugh is playing you for fools.

    August 11, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  24. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    The good people of SC should just start impeachment proceedings and just get rid of this sniveling little jerk, crying a river of crocodile
    tears...How shameful!
    Maybe we'll see him on an episode of "Cheaters" coming soon!

    August 11, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  25. nitsua91

    It is totally normal for a man to have an affair with another woman and still be with his wife even though she has moved out of the house. wait what??

    August 11, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
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