Rolling Hills of Mid Devon, England, by Simon Ward.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Move South Carolina Forward with Governor Sanford

From The Greenville News
By Keith Munson

The day after Mark Sanford’s election in 2002, Chip Campsen, Ken Wingate and I accompanied him to the National Governors Association meeting, where we crammed into one hotel room and played rock/paper/scissors for the roll-a-way bed. From that first day, Gov. Sanford has earnestly pursued fiscal restoration for South Carolina — and the recent political whirlwind doesn’t change that fact.

Sen. David Thomas may paint fleeting headlines for his own elective ambition, but he will never paint out the truth of Sanford’s stewardship of tax dollars.

Headline: Sanford cashes in airline ticket he “won” for state reimbursement.

Truth: Sanford bought an airline ticket at a charity auction for $1,100 and used it for official travel in lieu of the state spending $2,000 more for the flight. (If only all state procurement could be this efficient).

Headline: Sanford “breaks law” flying business rather than coach on overseas flights.

Truth: The S.C. Commerce Department’s purchase of these tickets was established policy for over 20 years, approved by the comptroller general, immaterial to the Legislative Audit Council, and occurred more than 230 times since 1984, including by members of Sen. Thomas’s own committee.

Headline: Sanford derelict in failing to report trips in private planes.

Truth: Gifts from friends and families are not reportable. How does not reporting every time you bummed a ride from your pilot-brother make you unfit to be governor? It’s not like he was hiding it — they were noted on his calendar.

If you step back and look at the bigger picture, you will see a clear image of fiscal vigilance. Sanford sold the state’s interest in one jet, saving more than $1.5 million dollars. He flies the smaller state plane when he can, avoids helicopter flights and stopped the convenient, but expensive, pick-up at Owens Field. He has flown one-third less than the average of the preceding three governors (about 100 hours less, of which, only a few hours have been questioned). In total, Sanford’s office has cut its travel budget by 63 percent from the previous administration.

Looking beyond travel, when Gov. Sanford took office, Gov. Jim Hodges had already spent around 85 percent of the annual Governor’s Mansion budget, in just 50 percent of the fiscal year. Columbia politicos were outraged, but I recall the Sanford camp thinking 15 percent would be more than enough for their needs.

When the Governor’s Mansion was evacuated for mold remediation, the governor’s family stayed in the pool house, rather than incur the expense of a substitute residency (and by “house” I mean a large sun room with one bathroom). When BMW offered a vehicle for the governor’s use, he sent it to the Highway Patrol. These, and a hundred things like these (saving South Carolina tens of millions), are what define Mark Sanford.

When I see opponents and spectators try to redefine Gov. Sanford for their own advancement and amusement, I’m reminded of the “witch burning” scene in Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail.” In this scene, the mob knows the woman is a witch because she looks like a witch, and she looks like a witch because the mob dressed her up like a witch ( — search “She’s a Witch”). This circular reasoning resembles the logic employed to belittle Gov. Sanford and make it seem as if his resignation would be justifiable. It is not.

Asking for his resignation (“we’d prefer you not be governor”) is a far cry from impeachment (“we have soberly and solemnly determined that you have committed ‘serious crimes or serious misconduct in office.’”). And while legislators, with the best intentions, may believe that Gov. Sanford should resign, I’d submit that based on the current record, only the opportunistic or vengeful could support impeachment.

Now that everyone has staked out their position on resignation, maybe the scab-picking will stop and the healing will begin. There are several areas of agreement where legislative progress can be made next session: instituting spending caps with Sen. Glenn McConnell’s leadership, tort reform with Speaker Bobby Harrell’s and Sen. Larry Martin’s suggestions, restructuring our state’s health care agencies via Sen. Harvey Peeler’s task force, and improving unemployment services, something Rep. Kenny Bingham has been advocating for several months.

Gov. Sanford is committed to making progress. If the General Assembly will commit, then this could be their most productive legislative session. Now that’s a headline I look forward to reading.

Keith Munson of Greenville is an attorney and he served on Gov. Mark Sanford’s transition team. He can be reached at

1 comment:

paul said...

South Carolina Unemployment Trends - August 2009

South Carolina Unemployment Trends in Heat Map form:
here is a map of South Carolina Unemployment in August 2009 (BLS data)

versus South Carolina Unemployment Levels 1 year ago