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. Peter

    Travel Portal and Destination Guides at Xpdo is an International travel community, which connects people to Share Trips, Browse, explore & discuss their travel experiences. Create, search for, or edit travel tips, travelogues, share photos or videos.

    August 11, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  2. Dan

    This guy is a piece of trash and needs to go.

    August 11, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  3. EBZ

    My 5 year old is less narcissistic than this bore. Grow up mid-life boy.

    August 11, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  4. m smith

    Bunch of bible thumping hippocrates. The lot of them. Health care is to expensive? If we had all the money wasted on these jerks and the benifits they get we wouldn't be in such a hole. They should have to pay the money back and fly coach like the rest of us folks. Was his mistress paid for on our dime also?

    August 11, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  5. Earl in Ohio

    Who's worse Pallin or this bum!!

    August 11, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |

    Out of all the shameless creeps serving 'The Public' in the political machine of our country this skank deserves anything his family and society tosses his way.

    August 11, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  7. will

    i hate to even tell people i'm from south carolins these days. Gov. Sanford is a real joke who should have step down long ago. this state has not moved forward under his leadership at all even before his current problems. republicans gov have dominated south carolina politics and we still and always have been at or near the bottom in everything. things like education, high school drop out, health care, good paying jobs, poverty, just to name few. if sanford couldnt even move little ol' sc forward then how in the world could anybody have taken him serious for president . from a person who lives here his job as gov is a major failure and the morale of lots of people around is at the bottom. thats why all the young people with education and some with no education continue to move out of state to atlanta,carlotte,and cities in florida. who can blame them

    August 11, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  8. if Thomas was really concerned about his travel practices, he should have called the governor's office instead of simply releasing the results

    Sanford has big brass ones

    telling anyone what they should have done with any results of his mis-deeds

    impeachment is the only way with him

    he could have committed murder and still be rationalizing it to the public saying it was public good and what govenors had done in the past (abeit pre-civil war past)

    August 11, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  9. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Get rid of the arrogant jerk

    August 11, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  10. Tommy

    This guy should enroll in Obama's socialized euthenasia program. Maybe he should consider a death panel...

    August 11, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  11. Ticker Shock

    This guy is one big joke. He's a whiner and a liar. Throw him out! How can he do a good job in his state when his heart is in another country?

    August 11, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  12. S Callahan

    Mr. Sandford.just ignore seems as though Mr. Thomas borrows from the NYS handbook...nag nag nag, wear them down...
    Keep you head up....this too will pass!

    August 11, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  13. Sherry

    Sanford's sense of entitlement is amazing. He doesn't find his actions reprehensible, nor even acknowledged that he has done anything wrong, other than cheating on his wife. I feel for the people of South Carolina for getting cheated out of their tax dollars.

    August 11, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  14. Mark in Atlanta

    Rupblican logic: GOP govs should only resign if doing so will enable them to collect more money and advance their quests for personal power (see Sarah Palin). They should never resign just because they got caught lieing, cheeting, stealing and/or fornicating.

    August 11, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  15. Nute

    You all really think a governor should fly coach? I think at some point membership has its privileges, and a governor should be able to fly first class.

    August 11, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  16. kman821

    Mark Mark Mark ... that's not blood they smell in the water ... it's your rotting political corpse! You're done pal and you're the only one that doesn't know it. You really need professional help with your King David complex ... sorry, but God is simply NOT working through you on some larger celestial scheme ... you moron!

    August 11, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |

    This man is a slug. He cares nothing for the people of his state only himself and what he can get. Shameful!

    Rochelle Stone Mountain, GA

    August 11, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  18. Nina Marie

    If I lived in SC, I'm sure I would want this guy impeached. His mind is not on business; it is with his soul mate. If I was Jenny, I would divorce him because, clearly, his heart is not with her. It's amazing how many people truly believe they are above everything – oh, golly, those C Street boys!

    August 11, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  19. North of South

    Hey sicko damaged goods you are full of lies you have used your wad ,family the folks in S Cfor all you could get out of it so its time you move on and move out you are a looser looser looser.
    So.America is wondering when you will be back down with your soul mate?
    No More Jets idiot

    August 11, 2009 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  20. Anne

    Narcissism is so rampant in the political arena, in the entertainment industry, in our lives....I really wish CNN would do an in depth story on it. Dr. Drew wrote a book about celebrities and narcissism....It is an incredibly scary personality disorder which in this case, with Palin, with Clinton just keeps on destroying the lives of those they come in contact with. They can truly not see that they've done anything wrong. It will forever be someone elses fault. The healthiest thing his wife and kids can do is NO CONTACT with this man. Please folks read about narcissism. It may save your life.

    August 11, 2009 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  21. Pierce

    Give the man a break!


    August 11, 2009 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  22. Mike

    Poor Sanford! Another victim being hunted like blood in the water by the media sharks and unhappy Americans ready to project their own self-hatred on a media figure. He has handled it better than any that have had a scandal and yet they won't quit!

    August 11, 2009 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  23. Republicans are the American Taliban

    He has a knack for telling lies...he'll be great on Fox Made Up News!!

    August 11, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  24. A SC Voter

    People, Haven't you heard? Sanford is hand picked by GOD for his office. You who criticize him don't realize that he (like his Newt Gingrich / C-Street Evangelical GOP brethren) is above the morality and laws of man that apply to the "little people." No mere act of man can remove him from office, only an act of God can remove him from office. The really sobering fact about South Carolina is that out of about 120 State House Representatives and 46 State Senators there is not one member of the state legislature who can do a better job running this state than Sanford. The morons who elected Sanford (and anyone else connected with C-Street) deserve all that they get by way of ridicule from the rest of the civilized world. Calhoun was right when he declared that "South Carolina is too small to be its own country, and too large to be an insane asylum." In that regard, nothing has changed here since the 1850's when that observation was originally spoken.

    August 11, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  25. david b

    wow.. what a hypocrite. He should just admit that instead of blathering on about being well rested. Anyone who can sleep on a futon can sleep in standard coach seats.


    Its all well and good that everyone else is uncomfortable, just as long as he gets the perks. Standard modern republicanism I guess. ..and I say that with all love towards the standards of old style republicanism, smaller government, strong defense of the constitution, and fiscal responsibility.

    August 11, 2009 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
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