Friday, July 17, 2009

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

We already knew that vaunted family-values fiscal conservative Gov. Mark Sanford doesn't really value his family that much. Now it turns out his version of fiscal conservatism only applies to other people.

While running for governor in 2002, Sanford zeroed in on travel spending, criticizing Democratic incumbent Gov. Jim Hodges for “lavish spending” on airfare and hotel rooms.

“If I become your governor,” he asserted in a radio ad, “I’ll fix that problem in Columbia."

...Later, he called out an unnamed state employee for staying in a New York hotel for $269 per night — which he pointed out at the time was $61 above the federal rate — and a state consultant for billing the state $375 a night for a three-night stay in a Phoenix hotel to attend a conference.
So far, so good. State guidelines were in place that specified “travel by commercial airlines will be accomplished in coach or tourist class, except where exigencies require otherwise.”

Apparently some exigencies arose when Sanford jetted off to South America on a trade mission -- with a side trip to visit his mistress:

But on the now-infamous June 2008 South America trade mission, where Sanford slipped away to meet his Argentine mistress, the governor’s airfare consisted of four business-class flights for which the state paid $8,687.

By contrast, the Commerce Department official who accompanied Sanford to Buenos Aires flew coach, at a cost of $1,910 to the taxpayers (the official’s itinerary included one less short leg, since he did not accompany Sanford to Cordoba, Argentina, for a day of dove hunting).

Only after news of his affair got out did Sanford reimburse the state $3,300 for expenses incurred on his extramarital conjugal visit.

He doesn't stint on the hotel costs either, even if his charges exceed that federal rate he holds sacrosanct for others.
[Hotel charges] include an $862 bill for Sanford’s three-night stay in Philadelphia’s Ritz-Carlton in July 2008 for the National Governors Association meeting. During the NGA’s February meeting, taxpayers picked up the $648 bill for Sanford and his wife, Jenny, to spend two nights in Washington’s JW Marriott.

Neither tab is out of line with big-city hotel rates, and in both cases the hotels were hosting NGA events. Still, the bills were a combined $644 more than the federal reimbursement rates — which Sanford has repeatedly urged state employees to adhere to — for the dates, cities and number of nights of Sanford’s stays.
And he likes to use the state plane too.
State records also show that Sanford, his family and staff have amassed about $380,000 in flight charges on the state plane in his six years in office, including many flights with his family and supporters costing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars each.

Sawyer pointed out that the state’s previous governor, Democrat Jim Hodges, spent $377,000 on flights in his four-year term term.
Yeah, and he probably shouldn't have. What's that old saying about "two wrongs don't make a right"? Hodges wasn't impressed with the rationalization:
“Under Jim Hodges leadership, South Carolina had single-digit unemployment, strong job growth and solid capital investment. Under Mark Sanford, we have 13 percent unemployment, one of the highest jobless rates in the country. You be the judge of who gave the taxpayers a better return on their investment.”
Sanford's hypocrisy isn't impressing anyone, including his fellow Republicans. State Senator Larry Martin, one of a group of Republicans who called for Sanford's resignation after he went AWOL to visit his girlfriend, "predicted Sanford’s supporters were 'going to be very disgusted to learn that he’s been somewhat of a big spender when it comes to his own personal travel while at the same time insisting that state government be on a starvation diet.'

I can't believe Sanford is still hanging on to the governorship. He's demonstrated his irresponsibility and instability quite clearly over the past couple of months. The only thing I can figure is he really has swallowed The Family's interesting theological perspective that he's been chosen by God and can therefore get away with anything, his egotistical comparisons to King David notwithstanding.

It's only us lesser beings who are held to a higher standard.