A new report documenting the controversial “Argentine Leg” that S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford added to a 2008 trade mission to South America was released to members of the media Monday – a day before the trip is scheduled to become the focus of what is likely to be the final meeting of a S.C. House of Representatives impeachment subcommittee.
The report – prepared by at the request of S.C. Rep. Greg Delleney – is actually titled “Regarding the Argentina Leg Governor Mark Sanford Ordered the South Carolina Department of Commerce to Add to South Carolina’s 2008 Trade Mission to Brazil.”
Prepared by Charleston reporter Michael Smith II, the report for the most part regurgitates press clippings and other previously published information from the trip, although it does tie a nice bow around the one of the most flagrant examples of Sanford’s abuse of his office – and taxpayer dollars – to facilitate a romantic liaison with his Latin lover, Maria Belen Chapur.
Details of the 2008 trip first surfaced this summer when Sanford made his emotional, nationally-televised confession of infidelity before a packed gallery of reporters at the S.C. State House. The event was notable for Sanford’s bizarre, stream of consciousness rambling, and for the fact that the governor’s wife, First Lady Jenny Sanford, did not “stand by her man.”
Mrs. Sanford later moved the couple’s four children out of the Governor’s Mansion in Columbia, S.C. after attempts at reconciling the marriage failed. She has also shed her wedding ring, declared the couple’s twenty-year marriage to be “over” and reportedly served Sanford with legal papers.
Anyway, Sanford acknowledged that he “crossed the ultimate line” with Chapur on this trip – and subsequently refunded taxpayers for a portion of the costs associated with his travel.
The more the media probed, however, the more obvious it became that the trip to Buenos Aires was less about “economic development” and more about giving the governor some “private time” with his lover.
“Nothing significant has materialized in terms of new trade growth between Argentina and South Carolina that is attributable to the governor’s 2008 meetings there,” the report notes.
Recent editorials have encouraged the House impeachment panel to further investigate the trip.
Our contention here is simple … if Sanford used taxpayer funds (even a nickel) for the purpose of seeing his lover, that’s criminal conduct and he should be removed from office.