Governor Sanford’s business travel record is currently under review by two groups: the state Ethics Commission and a subcommittee of the South Carolina Senate Budget Committee.The chair of the Administrative Subcommittee, Greenville Senator David Thomas, says that the governor’s practice of taking business-class trips overseas is a major issue since state law only allows for purchase of the cheapest tickets available. Sanford asserts that taking business-class trips has been a common practice among all recent governors, going back to Carroll Campbell and possibly beyond.
But Thomas says that Sanford’s response on that point will be considered, even though he has referred to the practices of past governors. “One can argue that. It’s a mitigating argument. Anything that can help him is fine and I’ve asked him to submit it. And we’re looking at things that won’t help him. A full complement back and forth is what we’re working on.”
The House Republican caucus on Wednesday called for Sanford’s resignation. House Speaker Bobby Harrell did the same the day before.
Thomas says he fears that if the matter isn’t resolved before January that it will become a political football during the legislative session and the election year. “If the legislature says ‘You can stay,’ then fine. It’s dealt with. It’s aired out. But as long as it just sits there festering, it’s an issue month after month after month.”
Thomas says that Sanford has been asked to testify before the subcommittee but so far they haven’t heard from him. Thomas says the sooner the investigations are complete and the sooner the matter is resolved, the better off the state will be. “My job in watching out for the citizens of the state is to move it as promptly as possible, within the next few months, before the next legislative session begins.”
There are currently no additional meetings scheduled for Thomas’ subcommittee. His office says there may not be others scheduled until the state Ethics Commission releases its report in another two-six weeks.