Already under fire for using taxpayer money to pay for first class plane tickets and luxurious hotel accommodations (perks he forbade his Cabinet employees from enjoying), S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford now finds himself at the heart of a major scandal involving his use of South Carolina’s official state plane.
And unlike his frequent first class upgrades, this time it certainly appears that the governor has explicitly violated state law pertaining to the use of this taxpayer-owned aircraft.
According to a detailed investigation conducted by the Associated Press, Sanford used South Carolina’s state-owned Beechcraft King Air for a variety of personal and political purposes that clearly fall outside the boundaries of permissible use.
From the AP investigation:
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford used state aircraft for personal and political trips, often bringing along his wife and children – contrary to state law regarding official use, an Associated Press investigation has found.
According to state budget law, “Any and all aircraft owned or operated by agencies of the State Government shall be used only for official business.”
Records reviewed by the AP show that since he took office in 2003, the two-term Republican has taken trips on state aircraft to locations of his children’s sporting events, hair and dentist appointments, political party gatherings and a birthday party for a campaign donor.
Wow. How the “frugal” have fallen.
The latest travel-related bombshell to drop since Sanford admitted his affair with Argentine lover Maria Belen Chapur, this story (written by reporter Jim Davenport) has Sanford dead to rights. The hair salon trip, in particular, is meticulously documented so as to remove any reasonable doubt about Sanford’s reason for flying your friendly skies.
The taxpayer tab for Sanford’s flight to make his hair appointment? $1,265.00.
Already on the ropes after the first round of travel-related stories broke, it’s safe to say that the myth of Sanford’s frugality has officially imploded at this point. He has also emboldened his many political enemies and burned through what little capital he may have had left with fiscal conservative allies.
Our founding editor put us on record calling for Sanford’s resignation since the beginning of the Chapur scandal.
Little did we know at the time how right we were.
Sanford should step down immediately and spare the state any further embarrassment.