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. amberw

    I'm from SC. Sanford has got to GO! Not only is the state the worst in almost every national quality of live statistic that is out there. But he has misused taxpayers' money habitually and illegally throughout his term. He has abandoned the state on numerous occasions without proper security measures being put into place to protect the citizens. And he has lied repeatedly to everybody. Not to mention completely embarrassing the state with his ridiculous scandal. And he is a proud member of the C Street c ult while running on a political platform of moral superiority. Go figure!

    Just leave, Sanford!

    August 11, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  2. Lotus

    Just be a man and resign! I'm so sick and tired of all you dishonest politicians sucking the money out of the taxpayer to fund your fun. Screw who you want, just don't do it on our ticket and at our expense.

    August 11, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. mabel floyd

    wonder when we will hear that jerk expound on "family values" and "the sanctity of marriage" –it may be a while at least until the right wingers can twist the history–this man lowers the IQ level of his whole state.

    August 11, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  4. Angie

    he is a liar and cheater. who cares what he says. if the people of south carolina still want him as their gov that is their business. he seems like a nut to me. just like the rest of the crazy gop.

    August 11, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  5. Joe Hache

    How long will it take the republican puppets at CNN to realize they are losing viewers because of their partisan statements. (I speak directly to Lou Dobbs) Even here in Canada, we can see the beneficial aspect of Obama for the American people. Are you so bold to think that your people cannot see what the rest of the world sees?


    August 11, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  6. barrystash

    Mr. Obama has actually carried out more crimes both before and after his ascendency than Mr. Sanford ever thought of. So I really don't understand the unending attention this gets, other than as a diversion from the collapse of the Obama administration.

    August 11, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  7. Alan

    Sanford - I have news for you. It's not a "feeding frenzy" and it's not "politically motivated." It's called an INVESTIGATION...something ALL Americans face when they are suspected of breaking the law.

    As a publicly elected official of the state, you have to realize that you must maintain a life that is "beyond the appearance of impropriety." You didn't.

    August 11, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  8. Christiane

    Not only is the guy a scum bag, but a reallllly realllly STUPID SCUM BAG!!! I love the fact that he represents the very best of what the Republican party has to offer – got that right brother, he's one sorry low down loser like the rest of em!

    August 11, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  9. I Can See Argentina from my Front Porch

    Sanford is nothing more than a lying, cheating bum.
    Impeach this guy and throw his conniving butt out of office.

    August 11, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  10. Kate in San Diego

    This man has absolutely no shame. I can't imagine why his wife wants anything to do with him at this point. And I dont care what Clinton did or didn't do. My son is not allowed to get away with misdeeds by pointing out that someone else did the same thing or something similar, and as adults, it is ridiculous to try and excuse his behavior with that sort of rationale.

    August 11, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I've followed articles on stupid Mark Stanford and I have got to say that I have the highest respect and regard for his wife Jenny. She should not put up with this crass, insincere, treacherous idiot. She must give him a divorce! She and her children are better off without him.

    August 11, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  12. Barry NiFong, Hawaii

    Sanford lies as much as Obama. They both take money from the taxpayers for their own personal use.

    August 11, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. We Have "Death Panels". They're Called Insurance Company Bureaucrats

    Well, at least he didn't go to Argentina for their superior health insurance.

    August 11, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  14. blogger

    I've followed articles on stupid Mark Stanford, and I've got to say that I have the highest regard and respect for his wife Jenny. She should not put up with this crass, insincere and treacherous idiot. She must give him a divorce! She and her kids are better off without him.

    August 11, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  15. aware

    Leave the romantic guy alone! At least he is capable of emotion.

    Keep an eye on the arrogant, frozen, lying Obama! What his health care plan doesn't say is the problem! 🙁

    August 11, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  16. g ontario

    anotherone bites the dust

    August 11, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  17. Mack

    That dog just won't hunt, Governor.

    August 11, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  18. Tommy

    Impeach him! Seems like it was all too easy for him to come to the same conclusions about President Clinton WHO WAS IN THE SAME CIRCUMSTANCE. If he refuses to be accountable, then he should be held to account by the SC legislature – assuming they actually have standards.

    Aim high!

    August 11, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  19. Jill

    Sanford should resign because he is hurting for love with his mistress. If he had any sense go back to her and leave Jenny. Until he leave Jenny he will never have any peace of mind and not able to run this state. Go away Sanford.

    August 11, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  20. mypitts2

    He's staying, and they don't have the guts to remove him. End of story.

    August 11, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. Chris in Va.

    ummmm....hello.....It's not a political "feeding freanzy"'s taht you are an adulterer and thief.....moron.

    August 11, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  22. Tommy

    Well, Sanford, does that blood in the water smell the same as Clinton's blood in the water did back in '98 when you were riding on the high horse? I bet it does.


    August 11, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  23. Liberal4Obama

    The republicans should have asked him to resign now they are stuck with this "living joke" of a man. As always the party of NO made the WRONG choice.

    August 11, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  24. Jim

    This has nothing to do with him cheating on his wife, it has EVERYTHING to do with being derilect from his duty as governor of South Carolina and lying to cover it up.

    If any one of you reading this didn't report to work for 5 days and was incomunicado you would be fired.

    It should be a no-brainer to any hard working person out there, there isn't any gray in this, if you think he should be left off the hook – you probably believe in the Easter Bunny and think that Nixon was inocent.

    August 11, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  25. Dave C - NJ

    $13000 so that he wouldn't look "haggard?"



    August 11, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
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