During his first six-year stint in the U.S. House of Representatives (from 1995-2001), Mark Sanford earned a reputation as a bona fide taxpayer hero who was willing to put the interests of all American taxpayers ahead of the interests of a narrow subset of his constituents.

Obviously he earned a much different reputation as governor of South Carolina … but despite his personal missteps, there was every expectation Sanford would return to his old stomping grounds in Washington, D.C. with the same “sense of urgency” on behalf of taxpayers.

Apparently not …

On one of the first gut check votes since he won a special election to represent South Carolina’s first congressional district, Sanford voted to effectively raise insurance rates on a broad swath of American homeowners by voting to delay the implementation of a key section of a national flood insurance bill.

Sounds boring, right? It is … but if you pay insurance, it matters.

Let’s see if we can explain this a little better: Sanford’s first district – which includes the Lowcountry coastal region of the state – is home to some of the largest, most expensive waterfront mansions in America. These spacious abodes are subject to increased risk of flooding due to hurricanes and other storms – which means their owners pay more for flood insurance.

Makes sense, right? Of course it does … that’s the free market at work.

With his vote, though, Sanford has decided people who live in low-risk flood areas ought to subsidize the insurance costs for these mansions – many of which happen to be inhabited by his wealthy “Republican” campaign contributors.

Nothing like another handout for the rich, right?

Correctly, Jim DeMint’s Heritage Foundation (or at least it’s “Heritage Action” subsidiary) listed this as one of its “key votes.” Heritage also praised one of Sanford’s South Carolina delegation mates – S.C. Rep. Mick Mulvaney – for voting against the amendment (a link the group was kind enough to share with us).

This website endorsed one of Sanford’s opponents in this year’s GOP primary election for the first district, but wound up endorsing him reluctantly over a liberal “Republican” in the GOP runoff. However we refrained from endorsing Sanford against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch in last month’s general election.

Why? Because he engaged in a disgusting panderfest in the final debate of the general election in which he all but repudiated his prior support for expanded parental choice in education and went “whole hog” in support of government-funded economic development efforts (a.k.a. crony capitalism).

“We like Mark Sanford on a personal level,” we wrote, “but if he is going to turn his back on the free market ideals this website champions … then this website is going to turn its back on him.”

So far Sanford’s second stint in the U.S. Congress is not off to a good start …