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. Typical Republican

    GOP = Truth and Tolerance: And the bastion/proof of it is Sanford!

    So there. He's a man that did NOTHING wrong. He cheated on his wife and went AWOL on his state. He's a good man. Anyone that goes after him is just covering up something. It's absolutely GOOD to cheat on your family, and abandon your duties. It's american. It's GOP darnit!

    August 11, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. Julian castillo

    Mark sanford is a cheater a loser. He preaches hate against other people. He loves to judge other people and he call other people inmoral. He does not the real word od Morality and his wife is a ignorant lady. She hides on her religion. She is a slave.

    August 11, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. Beth

    Gotta love it! He got caught and this guy is paying a very high price for probably nothing he really wanted in the first place. Tadah, you did it to yourself big boy. FOOL!!!!!!

    August 11, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. GuyInVA

    They are NOT getting divorced. Why not?

    August 11, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. Alverant

    I feel Sanford should stay and complete his term. The guy would replace him is even worse for the state.

    August 11, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Get Real

    Your not telling it all you sick animal.Your wife moved out the mansion because you refuse to not continue seeing your MISTRESS!!!!! stop the lies and resign with whatever if any dignity you have left.The people of SC should protest for your impeachment after all that you have stolen from the taxpayers but yet you wouldn't accept the stimulus to help you tell me which one is worst?

    August 11, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. Keeth in California

    Resign. Sanford said that's all Clinton could do, now it's time for Sanford to walk his talk.

    August 11, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. Daisy

    SLAMMER! This is one cheater revealed. I love how it's ruining his life!!!

    August 11, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  9. Mary

    Just another hypocritical right wing religious nut. Don't do as I do, do as I say, until I get caught.
    When he went on national tv and said the woman in Argentina was his soul mate and he was going to TRY and fall back in love with his wife, I thought it was one of the most despicable things I had ever heard a man say. Even if he felt that way, why didn't he have the decency to keep his stupid mouth shut. What a gut-wrenching thing for his wife and children to have heard.

    August 11, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  10. Common Sense

    To Mr. Sanford:
    I beg you to step aside. You are bad PR for the state of South Carolina. You are bad PR for Republicans. You are bad PR for Christian values. If you have a shred of empathy or remorse – leave the office now, so that we all can get on with business in SC. Staying in the office will only hurt SC over and over. Do us all a favor and resign now. You will only stay in office if you are trying to do more damage to your wife, your children, the state of SC and Republicans everywhere. BTW – I AM A REPUBLICAN. I called for Bill Clinton's resignation, and I am calling for Mark Sandford's also. Right is always right and wrong is always wrong regardless of which party you represent. If we can all agree to that then let's not make this a dividing issue. Hurray for SC! Hurray for the USA!

    August 11, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  11. Sally B./Ark valley

    I love it when cheaters try to claw their way out. This is sooooo great, Sen. Sanford just buried himself.

    August 11, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  12. Pragmatic

    What the GOP won't admit is the the Lt. Governor is even worse, in their humble opinion: more moral but less stable ... why can't the GOP find good candidates???? Then even those "cut and run" in the middle of their term ... thinking Martinez & Palin ...

    Why is it when anyone questions what a republican is doing or has done – they always whine "politically motivated!" ... just can't stand the sunshine!

    August 11, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  13. Trenton

    Sanford must have thought he was royalty and nothing could touch him. Too bad he got so careless, hope it was all worth it, resign you fool.

    August 11, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  14. Jay Tee

    The Governor needs to resign and stop trying to defend his reprehensible behavior. His problem is that he wants to be seen as a man with high moral standards, a family man, a successful and powerful governor AND he also wants a "soul mate" girlfriend on the side. Once this situation becomes public knowledge, he can't have it all and he truly finds that hard to believe.

    August 11, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  15. Yolanda

    Being a washed up Republican, I'm sure he'll write a book. Ha!

    August 11, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  16. Annie

    Talk about Karma, this guy really got his! Hooooray!!

    August 11, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  17. Peter

    I don't care about his divorce. I want him to resign because he was using taxpayers money for flights to use his "family values" with a woman who isn't his wife...A hypocrit and a crook.

    August 11, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  18. Don

    To the person who asked was Sanford doing a good job as Gov...seriously...Look at SC. I live here. He has done nothing for this state. He needs to go far away.

    August 11, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  19. Isabelle

    Boy, talk about tripping over yourself...this guy fell right on his face. Hopefully nobody was underneath him!

    August 11, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  20. In the West

    More GOP morality..... Freud might call the GOP need to control sexuality and their overt homophobia Projection.

    Can't control your little fella? Join the republican party....

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

    Sanford was the Republican who condemned President Clinton so fiercely. Resign you dumb idiot.

    August 11, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  22. J.C.

    I don't care either way. We have more important problems such as health care reform and illegal immigration.

    August 11, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  23. Kenda

    What a price to pay for rotten tail.

    August 11, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  24. Larry

    Mark ...

    Do yourself a favor and walk away

    All of this simply is not that important

    You are making a complete fool of yourself

    Nobody believes what you say ...

    Walk away ...

    August 11, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. Idiot_Pelosi

    I think he should resign so the state of SC can move on.

    BUT then I want Barney Frank to resign because he was caught with all of his boyfriends in a lude act.

    Then I want Bill Clinton to admit he should have resigned for cheating and LYING UNDER OATH to a GRAND JURY.

    Oh by the way, Obama lies just lie Clinton. He can lie right through his teeth while smiling like a monkey.

    August 11, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
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