S.C. Senate President Glenn McConnell bit off a little more Jenny Sanford than he could chew this week, as South Carolina’s First Lady publicly ripped what she called “cheap political shots” made by McConnell in the Charleston Post and Courier on Friday.
The spat started earlier this week when Jenny’s husband, Gov. Mark Sanford, said that lawmakers should refuse taxpayer reimbursements for their participation in next week’s emergency budget session – something many of them are already doing.
That suggestion prompted Sen. McConnell – whose contempt for Sanford has grown more public of late – to not only reject the idea, but use the dispute to portray Sanford and his family as out-of-touch with ordinary South Carolinians … or at least ordinary South Carolina legislators.
From Friday’s Post and Courier:
Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell was not at all pleased with Sanford’s suggestion. He said that not all elected officials are “rich people” and are not “independently wealthy enough to reach into their pockets” and pay for this little overtime session.
“I am not going to ask them to (refuse reimbursements).”
McConnell said Sanford “is sitting over there in a taxpayer-paid mansion with staff and with paid chauffeurs and drawing a salary many, many times what they are getting.”
Ouch. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for Mrs. Sanford to fire off a sternly-worded letter to the editor rebuking McConnell …
In contrast to the Legislature growing government by over 40 percent over the past four years, the Mansion Commission and I have taken extraordinary measures to try to be good stewards of this historic home where our family now resides.
We have cut operating expenses by roughly half, saving approximately $250,000 annually from the previous administration for a total savings of about $1.5 million over the past six years.
Of course, those of us who know her instinctively recognized that Jenny was just getting warmed up. Having staked out her own fiscal conservative credentials, she moved into Keyser Soze-mode.
As for chauffeurs, unlike the roughly 20 security agents who are assigned to take House and Senate leadership to receptions and parties across Columbia when they’re in town, Mark does have a security detail because, among other things, he’s the last person to sign off on inmate executions â€” and that’s just one of the things that he does that at times upsets people.
It’s worth noting that when we came to Columbia, there was a brand new BMW sitting in the driveway. The practice, going back to the Campbell administration, was that the first family could use this as a personal car. Mark declined it and instead bought me a minivan â€” which I now chauffeur our four boys back and forth to school in.
I found the senator’s spending comments especially interesting given his near single-handed push to have taxpayers spend more than $30 million related to restoring a Confederate submarine. Then again, those actions fit with his efforts to have taxpayers hire drivers for the lieutenant governor when the previous lieutenant governor had dismissed them more than 10 years earlier, saying it was a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.
You know, as much as we’ve got a mutual admiration thing going with Sen. McConnell, there’s really no way to describe this exchange that doesn’t end with us telling you that his testicles are now in a jar over at the Lace House.
It may be relatively easy to get “one up” on the Governor, but you don’t mess with Jenny Sanford, people.