Governor Mark Sanford attended a meeting of the National Governor’s Association over the weekend in the nation’s capital, through Monday. He flew there on the state plane. Spokesman Ben Fox told The State newspaper that his registration and hotel cost $1,150.
Also on that trip the governor was scheduled to meet with President Obama, and speak with other governors about the Yucca Mountain issue, on Obama’s plans not to open the nuclear waste facility. Sanford was also slated to participate in a panel discussion on surface transportation including public-private partnership models.
Even though South Carolina governors and those across the country have attended such meetings for many years, some governors have begun to question the cost of governors associations. South Carolina currently owes $106,000 in dues to the National Governor’s Association.
The state Ethics Commission has not found fault with Sanford’s trips to similar meetings.
But John Crangle, a college professor of political science and attorney with the watchdog group Common Cause, does question the legitimacy of such trips by any governor.
Crangle questions what the governor really accomplished on the trip that will benefit the state. He says it certainly has not been demonstrated that such association meetings are not without benefit for attendees, but he says travel expense should be kept at a minimum.
(Crangle governors meetings MP3 1:17)
Crangle on governors meetings
Crangle has also questioned Sanford’s transfer of campaign funds to pay for his attorneys who fought the possibility of his impeachment. He sent an inquiry to the state Ethics Commission regarding that matter.
Crangle said that he questioned numerous members of the General Assembly before he could find one who would agree to submit an official inquiry to the state Attorney General’s office concerning the legality of the funds transfer. Crangle says Republican Senator Jake Knotts of Lexington County does plan to submit an inquiry.
Crangle says he encourages donors to sue any candidates who misuse campaign funds.
Governor Sanford still awaits a State Ethics Commission hearing on 37 ethics violations.