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Mark Sanford's Lavish, Taxpayer-Funded Travel

5 years ago
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Let's put it this way: We still have Mark Sanford to "kick around." If the South Carolina governor has any hope of resurrecting his political career -- using Richard Nixon, perhaps, as inspiration -- he has a big job ahead. From a reporter's point of view, he's the gift that keeps on giving.

Thanks to some resourceful digging by Politico, we are now informed that state records betray his shtick as an officeholder stingy with public funds. A new analysis of those records shows that, in truth, Sanford was quite the high flier, expensive flier and frequent flier.

While he berated staff members who dared stray out of economy class, he could usually be found in business, or first class, stretched out. This after he had made such a big deal of his predecessor's "lavish spending" and had promised to "fix that problem in Columbia," the state capital.

Whatever he did in Columbia, it was a different story outside of it. There were trips to Paris, London and other lovely destinations, in the front cabins of commercial flights -- when he wasn't using the state jet. More often than not, he stayed in luxurious hotels. At the same time, he demanded that lower-level workers double up on accommodations when traveling on the public dime.

Is it worth noting that he, too, could decide to stay "two to a room"? That was certainly the case in his most famous international trip, the one to Buenos Aires. Cheap shot? Perhaps, but let's face it, Mark Sanford didn't travel on the cheap. Let's not forget that this was the guy who tried to turn down millions in federal stimulus money for his state because he considered it wasteful. It's always useful to know what our leaders' priorities are.

We still may not be seeing the whole picture. The State, South Carolina's leading newspaper, is raising the possibility that the so-called full disclosure of e-mails from the governor's office was not really full at all. It seems that e-mail traffic virtually disappears during that fateful six-day period when Sanford was tangoing in Argentina instead of hiking in the woods. The paper contends that it raises suspicions like those triggered by Rosemary Woods's famous 18-minute tape-recording gap.

Before we get too carried away with Nixon comparisons, I should point out that he resigned. Sanford refuses to. He's still wearing that "Kick Me" sign.
Filed Under: Scandal, Media
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