In an exclusive interview the South Carolina Radio Network, Governor Mark Sanford stated that he has never taken first-class trips as many media reports indicate, but traveled business-class, which is a step up from economy class. And Sanford says he knows that business-class has been a common practice with previous Governors.
“There were business-class tickets purchased between here and South East Asia and Europe,” said Sanford. “But with all due respect to Senator Thomas and others, if they are so enraged by the purchase of business-class tickets, why weren’t they interested in that issue during the Campbell Administration, the Beasley Administration, the Hodges Administration, when that was the consistent practice by the Department of Commerce on such economic development trips?”
Greenville Senator chairs a budget subcommittee which has been investigating Sanford’s trip expenses.
Sanford says if Thomas and other lawmakers are looking at his trip practices, they should examine the practices of past governors and other officials which set a precedent. “They’ve taken business-class flights. That has been the consistent policy of the Department of Commerce for 20 years, that the Governor, Secretary of Commerce, and in some cases, the senior-level staff, would take business-class trips. We didn’t challenge it when we came into office.”
Sanford released a statement Thursday saying that he has used the state plane less than his predecessors, like Governor Campbell, who flew 451 hours, Governor Beasley, who flew 303 hours, and Governor Hodges who flew 310 hours. Sanford says he flew 229 hours.
Sanford says his mission as governor has been to look out for the taxpayer of South Carolina, and that includes reducing plane travel, and also reducing expenses by more than a million dollars just by getting rid of the state’s interest in an expensive private jet. “You know, when the fanfare and the media buzz die down, I hope that people will be able to see that basic truth.”