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

Sanford defends expensive travel, denies divorce

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Caroline

    Don't remember this "at some point it's too much" sentiment during the Clinton scandal.

    August 11, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. Miranda

    Buenos Aires, how lucky can he get? Beautiful city, such a different lifestyle!

    August 11, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. Roger

    The ol' Tomcat may be in trouble, momma has left him probabley going to divorce him & the good folks of South Carolina resent the fact they paid the bill on his quest for some "on the side. All I can say is what our dads told us when we were teenagers- SON TRY THINKING WITH YOUR BRAIN!!!

    August 11, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Barack won the election, America loses big time.

    I'll take a hundre Sanford infedilities over one massive takeover of our country by a Socialist named Obama.

    Love the latest posters of him resembling both Hitler and the Joker, both pictures are fair reflections of who this used car salesman is.

    August 11, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. Patricia On The Potomac

    If, as Governor, Sanford is found to have abused his official powers or wasted state resources, the citizens of South Carolina should get rid of him. As a figure on the national political scene, he continues to be the face of hypocrisy in the public arena: blasting Clinton for his immorality and using l'affaire Lewinski as justification for his conclusion that Clinton was unfit to lead, and then maintaining that he, himself, is still fit to lead after his nefarious conduct has become public knowledge. I would have felt somewhat sorry for him had he not indulged earlier in the tiresome Holier-Than-Thou nonsense.

    August 11, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Bob of Lompoc

    This fella is such a sad case I think it's time you media hounds and Dems leave him alone. I am what you would describe as a left wing way out psycho "liberal", but enough is enough. I know, I still despise Republicans for their six year campaign to undo Bill Clinton's election as President, their constant charges about Whitewater, Jennifer Flowers and Paula Jones of Arkansas, the whacked out babe Juanita Broaddrick who claimed Clinton raped her, the right wing loony idea that Vince Foster was murdered, the Fats Lewinsky thing, etc., etc., etc. But, the Republicans failed (kind of a habit, do ya think ?). They lost. Dems, we won. Drop the hate. There is a family and four small children envolved here with the Sanfords. What do you say gang, leave them alone and let them try to put it back together again ? Concentrate on Health Care.

    August 11, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. joe speach

    Is it really shocking to learn that a sanctimonious, condescending politician like Sanford can look his wife, kids and constituents in the eye and act like he is the victim here? He's nothing but a miserable cheat. He, along with Bob Livingston, Bob Barr, Newt Gingrich, and others were "playing around" when they were calling for Clinton's impeachment.. These people, including Clinton, don't have a conscience. But regretably, that's what it takes to make it as a politician in either party today. What do they call it when a politician happens to speak the truth? A gaff!

    August 11, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  8. GOP = Truth & Tolerance

    The S.C. legislature appropriates funds, including for the Governor's travel. Sen. Thomas as a member of the legislature both (1) appropriated money for Gov. Sanford's travel, (2) failed to evercise any oversight over those appropriations, and (3) failed to object at the time he appropriated the funds. Sen. Thomas failed in his appropriation and oversight duties and should resign. Thomas is only interested in a political attack mission for personal political gain.

    August 11, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  9. Paula, Farmington New Hampshire

    Not only do accusations, keep "coming and coming and coming." They come only because more and more and more wrongdoing is unearthed.

    Resign, Sanford, for whatever little honor you have left.

    August 11, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. Brian

    Let me guess, the GOP will come out next week claiming Stanford is their new and up-rising star. ha!

    August 11, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Hb

    A holy roller caught with his soul mate and now shown to be a big spender with the tax payer's money. Hey buddy, your state's affairs are in shambles. Poor, Very Poor and with one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country. To bad a conservative like you was too busy spending our money and committing adultery. What does your good book say about that? Pathetic loser!!!!

    August 11, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  12. Face reader

    His face says it all and should be on every poster representing the republican party and where it is today,in the gutter.

    August 11, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  13. Toni from Texas

    I agree with Bob of Lompoc. Let's concentrate on healthcare reform. The past three administrations have tried to address this problem but it was such a mess they gave up. We can, we must, so let's fix healthcare in America – the right way, of course.

    August 11, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |

    As we say in the south. Boy you are in a heap of trouble. of coures he will use the tried and true republican excuse. LIE

    August 11, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. Ann

    Sanford, you should resign and let Jenny be the Government. Obviously, she is more capable than you because she is the ONE who got you elected. Jenny is the one with the brains and NOT you and your Bimbo.

    Here we thought you were so frugal with the State tax monies and SO SO conservative. Let's all think again.

    A tax paying GOP citizen of S.C.

    August 11, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Robin in SC

    The majority of South Carolinians, even the staunchest conservatives, are calling for this lying, cheating, narcisstic excuse of a man to just shut up and leave the capitol quietly. Why he won't, but instead continues to humiliate his wife and bring shame on his entire family I don't know. The State Assembly has recessed until January so he can't be impeached yet. He cost our state untold dollars by requiring students and teachers to file suit and go to court to force him to take stimulus money for education; that alone should be grounds for impeachment. I'm embarrassed that this man is representing SC in any capacity. I'd love to buy him one more airline way to Argentina.

    August 11, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. yuri

    Sanford has no right to accuse David Thomas of being absurd, but he reserves the right to be a stinking scumbag, holdin' on to power like an iguana.

    August 11, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. CHRIS

    it's just a shame that these politicians on their moral high grounds
    usually preach to us about family values and restraint, and they just turn around and practice the complete opposite, I'm so very tired of these hypocrites in our government, spending our tax dollars while cheating on their wives. Will there be ever any honest politicians in this country?

    August 11, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  19. B

    Just resign and go away!

    August 11, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. Truth Tonic, Southern California

    The longer this loser stays in office the worse South Carolina looks. What a jerk.

    August 11, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. GI Joe

    He's doing exactly what "The Family" at C-Street taught him. He thinks he's above the law and just because they forgive him it's ok.

    C-Street – Ensign, Sanford, others, (including that doctor from Oklahoma – can't remember his name) - THEY are what this country should be afraid of.

    SHEEPLE of S. Carolina - get rid of him – NOW.

    August 11, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. Karen

    Could it be that his critics keep coming and coming adn coming because HE kept talking and talking and talking!

    August 11, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  23. Jeff H

    I hope he didn't vote into any religious, moral decisions. If he had, they should be nulled and he should be fired.

    August 11, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  24. Barry Thomas

    Typical Republican, it's not his fault and he right and the rest of the world is wrong. Bug out Sanford, you're history.

    August 11, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. Cindy

    Mark, its God...time to resign buddy.

    Sadly, this will be the only "sign" Mark Sanford will accept in order to leave office.

    August 11, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10