Governor Mark Sanford responded Tuesday to recent allegations that he misused the state plane. He said it was basically a politically-driven feeding frenzie.
Concerning allegations that he used a plane to fly to a hair salon at Myrtle Beach and a dentist appointment, Sanford said those were notes in state files taken out of context. He said the hair cut was an $11 drop-in visit to a local discount barber shop which he made during extra time on a business trip.
“I did wrong, I messed up, and there are consequences,” said Sanford. “But what you can’t do is create a feeding frenzy where every practice, that may have been employed for 20 years, and no other governor faced that question. The Department of Commerce arranges the trips. I don’t think you should have one standard for this governor, separate from other governorships in the past, and separate from the standards of other state agencies.”
Concerning the governor’s flying first-class on overseas trips when state policy requires economy class, Sanford said it’s important to use reason in assessing his actions. He said a comfortable trip was important, considering his bad back, and the fact that on those occasions he was immediately walking into meetings that could lead to major investments and major jobs for the state. “I didn’t think it unreasonable. You put me on a plane. I fly across the Atlantic. I land and go straight to business meetings. I attend meetings for the entire day and finish with a business dinner that night. You need to be somewhat coherent and rested before you step into meetings that literally determine whether tens of millions in investments come to South Carolina.”
Sanford points out that before his administration, the state actually owned interest in a small jet that was used to fly overseas. His administration led the way in selling interest in that aircraft and saved the state money. “Whether worrying about business class or first class, what they did is take a Hawker jet across the Atlantic, which would make a first-class ticket look truly incidental.”
Sanford also said Tuesday that he and his wife are not getting a divorce. First Lady Jenny Sanford moved out of the Governor’s mansion Friday to spend the school year at the Sanford’s coastal home. Both Sanfords said it was part of the process of reconciliation.