Sanford gets back to business

A day after a legislative panel voted against impeaching him, governor meets with Cabinet

lchapman@thestate.comDecember 11, 2009 

  • Sanford on health care, real ID

    Gov. Mark Sanford has laid out two issues he hopes to get federal help in resolving.

    HEALTH CARE

    Sanford sent a letter Thursday to members of the South Carolina congressional delegation warning them of the consequences the state faces with health care reform. Sanford estimated 543,000 new individuals would be added to the health insurance program for the poor. Sanford said S.C. would face raising taxes to pay for the surge in enrollment.

    REAL ID DEADLINE

    Sanford said South Carolina is facing a Jan. 1 deadline to comply with Homeland Security rules on driver's license safety, otherwise state residents will face extra security in airports and in federal buildings. The rules are intended to make it difficult to counterfeit government-issued IDs. But Sanford said the mandates are too costly. Sanford said he will request a waiver and hopes the Obama administration accommodates S.C.'s request, just as the Bush administration did.

Gov. Mark Sanford, conducting his final Cabinet meeting of the year, was focused on business Thursday.

Sanford talked about the need for the state's congressional delegation to defeat federal health-care reform, saying it would cost the state almost $700 million. He also expressed hope the Obama administration would give the state another waiver on complying with federal rules on driver's licenses.

When he faced reporters, Sanford talked briefly about his personal life - how good it was to be at work without the threat of impeachment hanging over his head and how he hopes to repair his marriage, strained by a five-day trip to Argentina in June to carry on an extramarital affair.

Less than a day removed from news that lawmakers in the S.C. House lawmakers essentially had rejected a bid to remove him from office - for that trip and a 2008 taxpayer-funded trip to Argentina where he also saw his lover - Sanford said he was pleased by the lawmakers' decision.

"Yesterday was a very important hurdle day," Sanford said, referring to Wednesday's 6-1 vote against a resolution that sought to remove him on grounds he abandoned his duties. The panel weighing impeachment instead unanimously approved a censure resolution, formally expressing the General Assembly's disapproval of Sanford's actions.

Sanford admitted putting people "in a difficult spot" - from his estranged wife Jenny to S.C. citizens, who took sides on whether he should stay or go.

Sanford said he spent the hours after his impeachment victory on Sullivan's Island with his family.

At the same time, a TV interview of Jenny Sanford was being broadcast nationally.

"I didn't watch," Gov. Sanford said of the TV interview.

In the interview, Jenny Sanford - who moved out of the Governor's Mansion and to Sullivan's Island this summer, leaving her husband in Columbia - cast doubt on the couple staying together.

But Gov. Sanford said he still hoped to save his marriage, understanding his actions had caused his wife great pain. "There are hopes to reconcile."

State lawmakers will meet next week and consider the impeachment and censure resolutions. But it's almost guaranteed the 25-member House Judiciary Committee only will vote to censure Sanford.

The governor still faces 37 ethics charges. Early next year, a South Carolina Ethics Commission panel will weigh whether to fine Sanford up to $74,000 for using state planes for personal trips, buying pricey airline tickets against state law and misusing campaign money.

Sanford, again, said the alleged violations are technical and minor.

He said he hopes lawmakers will provide more clarity about what kind of airline tickets a governor can buy.

"(The law) needs to be more explicit," Sanford said.

Though the governor said he looked forward to a less contentious relationship with state lawmakers, he also said he would not be "walking on eggshells" during his remaining 13 months in office.

"Walking on eggshells is not in my nature," Sanford said.

Reach Chapman at (803) 771-8483.

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