As S.C.’s Mark Sanford considers rejecting stimulus cash, a Democratic ad urges him to think again

Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who apparently is thinking about a 2012 run for president, may reject nearly a quarter of the federal stimulus money available for his state.

On Monday, the Democratic National Committee says it will begin airing the following TV ad on stations in Columbia, S.C., to help him reconsider:

More background can be found here. The ad mentions that Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer doesn’t agree with Sanford.

This from a piece by Bauer on SCHotline:

As a fiscal conservative I am not a fan of the current “economic stimulus” bill, however, it is hard to ignore the awful possibility that South Carolina taxpayers could wind up stuck in the salad bar after paying full price for a prime rib buffet.

For openers let me be clear: I support our governor’s attempt to use additional stimulus money to repay debt. It’s a wise and good use of funds that positions us well for the future.

Clearly, Governor Sanford believes he is doing the right thing, and I don’t for a minute doubt his intentions. This is someone who time and time again has fought for the taxpayers.

But here is where I disagree. If the administration turns down the Governor’s request, I cannot in good conscience allow South Carolina taxpayers to fund benefits for the other 49 states.

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March 13th, 2009
9:00 pm

Complete text of letter to Gov. Mark Sanford signed by 52 state mayors:

Dear Governor Sanford and Members of the South Carolina General Assembly:

As you are well aware, we are facing an economic crisis in South Carolina as dark as we have seen in decades. Our state’s unemployment rate for January 2009, released this week, stood at 10.4%, second highest in the entire United States and the highest in nearly 26 years. Nearly 43,000 of our fellow South Carolinians lost their jobs in January, and all told, there were nearly 228,000 people without work in our state. There is no reason to believe those numbers have improved since January. In fact, our state’s Board of Economic Advisors has warned that the unemployment rate could rise to as high as 14% by summer.

The numbers are grim, but as mayors who lead South Carolina cities and towns, we see the human-scale impact of these statistics every day. We know the terrible cost of this economic downturn on our fellow citizens. Every day, we talk to people in our communities who have lost work to the latest layoff or downsizing, who struggle with impossible choices like buying either groceries or prescriptions for their children, or whether to pay the rising health insurance premium or this month’s rent or mortgage payment. The people represented in the unemployment statistics are not abstractions, they are our neighbors, and they are hurting.

To deal with this crisis, last month Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), designed to stabilize the economy and to preserve and create jobs, help the unemployed, invest in our nation’s infrastructure and stabilize state and local government budgets to avoid further layoffs and cuts in vital services.

This week, Governor Sanford sent the General Assembly a letter indicating that he will ask President Obama for a waiver from spending a substantial portion of the funds the way Congress intended, but rather to use it to retire state debt. If President Obama does not grant the waiver, Governor Sanford says he will reject bringing these badly needed funds to South Carolina, and the dollars that our citizens pay in taxes to the federal government will be sent to the other states.

To reject this funding will mean drastic cuts in services to our citizens and be tragic to South Carolinians who badly need help in this time of crisis. We urge Governor Sanford to reconsider his position.

If Governor Sanford does not reconsider, we urge the General Assembly to override the Governor’s decision to reject the funds and apply them to help our state achieve the goals of the ARRA. This would include overriding the Governor’s position that he will reject funding for an extension of unemployment benefits to part-time workers who are searching for full-time work. The teachers, police officers, parole officers, firefighters and sanitation workers who serve in our communities and whose jobs are threatened by budget cuts deserve nothing less. The citizens in our communities who those wonderful employees serve should not have those services cut when the means exist to prevent it.

Furthermore, it is a matter of the highest urgency that our state government acts immediately to get the ARRA into our economy as fast as possible to help as many people as possible and to stop the downward economic spiral. May states have appointed a “stimulus czar” or other official to help efficiently utilize the funds, ensure accountability for them and to maximize their state’s competitiveness when it comes to seeking discretionary funding for their states. We urge Governor Sanford to appoint an official whose job will be to challenge state agencies responsible for this funding to spend it as quickly and as wisely as possible so that it gets into the cities and towns and communities all across South Carolina and begins to relieve suffering caused by the economic distress.

As mayors, we know that people don’t eat in the long run, they eat every day. We are Republicans, Democrats and independents and our letter has little to do with our political ideology or whether we feel the stimulus package is good national public policy or not. We are writing as citizens of this great state, who as mayors, are focused on our towns and cities, but we speak for the needs of all South Carolinians, whether in our cities or not. The 228,000 South Carolinians who are out of work and the hundreds of thousands more whose jobs, homes and families are threatened by this economic crisis live in our communities, they are our neighbors, and they rightly expect leadership from us in this time of crisis. The ARRA provides our fellow citizens with the promise of jobs and relief from the pain of this terrible economic downturn. We urge you to seize the opportunity presented by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help reverse the downward spiral in our economy and to protect the vital services our state and local governments provide to our citizens.


Joseph P. Riley

Mayor, City of Charleston

O.L. “Buddy” Johnson, Jr.

Mayor, Town of Little Mountain

Harold Thompson

Mayor, City of Union

Kevin L. Johnson

Mayor, City of Manning

Nancy G. Brigman

Mayor, Town of Latta

Bobby Brock

Mayor, Town of Blenheim

Thomas R. Rivers

Mayor, Town of Williston

Keith Bailey

Mayor, Town of Blythewood

Jeffrey Graham

Mayor, City of Camden

Minnie Blackwell

Mayor, City of Hanahan

Steve Carver,

Mayor, Town of Wagener

Derek A. Hodgin

Mayor, City of Westminster

Elise Partin

Mayor, City of Cayce

William Barnet, III

Mayor, City of Spartanburg

Charlene N. Herring

Mayor, Town of Ridgeway

Don Godbey

Mayor, City of Mauldin

Bob Coble

Mayor, City of Columbia

Moses L. Cohen, Jr.

Mayor, Town of Fairfax

Joseph McElveen

Mayor, City of Sumter

Sallie Peake

Mayor, City of Wellford

Welborn Adams

Mayor, City of Greenwood

Carl B. Beckmann, Jr.

Mayor, City of Folly Beach

Wright Gaines

Mayor, City of Inman

Ailene D. Ashe

Mayor, Town of Lockhart

Thomas H. Alexander

Mayor, City of Bishopville

Nathan R. Salley, Sr.

Mayor, Town of Salley

Terence Roberts

Mayor, City of Anderson

Alton McCollum

Mayor, City of Bamberg

Rob Taylor

Mayor, Town of Aynor

Doug Echols

Mayor, City of Rock Hill

Randy Randall

Mayor, City of Clinton

Bronco Bostick

Mayor, City of Hardeeville

Burley L. Lyons

Mayor, Town of Edisto Beach

R. Keith Summey

Mayor, City of North Charleston

Billy Keyserling

Mayor, City of Beaufort

Carol E. Burdette

Mayor, Town of Pendleton

Rick Danner

Mayor, City of Greer

Stephen J. Wukela

Mayor, City of Florence

Frank McMulty

Mayor, Town of Seabrook Island

Johnnie Waller

Mayor, Town of Calhoun Falls

Anne Johnston

Mayor, Town of St. George

Peggy Paxton

Mayor, Town of West Pelzer

Donnie D. Grice

Mayor, City of Clover

Roy Smith, Jr.

Mayor, Town of McCormick

David Owens

Mayor, City of Pickens

Charles Ackerman

Mayor, Town of Harleyville

Tony Watkins

Mayor, City of Darlington

Larry Abernathy

Mayor, City of Clemson

Tom Alexander

Mayor, City of Bishopville

J. Edward Lee, Ph.D.

Mayor, City of York

Arvest M. Turner

Mayor, Town of Ninety Six

Paul Miller

Mayor, City of Orangeburg


March 14th, 2009
12:21 pm

Although I am a Georgia native and now reside here again, I once lived in South Carolina. It was like living in the third world. Talk about people who live in a bubble; there a folks there who have never been to Atlanta. But I digress — Mark Sanford is ignoring the needs in his state, and God knows they need the help, to try to pose as a national wannabe. His position is certainly transparent in that respect.


March 15th, 2009
5:33 pm

SCDP Rejects Mark Sanford’s Appointment of Richard Eckstrom to Oversee Spending of Stimulus Funds

March 12, 2009

SCDP Chair Responds to Sanford Appointment

Carol Fowler, chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, issued the following statement today in response to Gov. Mark Sanford’s appointment of Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom to oversee spending of federal money:

“South Carolinians have a right to expect careful scrutiny of spending from the federal economic stimulus plan. However, Gov. Mark Sanford’s choice of Richard Eckstrom for this task shows remarkably bad judgment.

“Mr. Eckstrom himself has been a terrible steward of taxpayer dollars. He has a history of improper behavior for which South Carolina’s citizens had to pay: he misused a state vehicle and he used state dollars to settle a sexual harassment suit against himself.”

In 2004, Eckstrom took a state-issued minivan on a 3,615-mile trip to Minnesota and charged $665 on a state-issued gas card along the way. Only when the media caught Eckstrom and broke the story in late September 2006 did he repay the illegal charges. In 1997, Eckstrom faced sexual harassment allegations and used $57,500 of state funds to pay for a legal settlement.

South Carolina Democratic Party



March 17th, 2009
8:35 pm

“I think it’s time for Mark Sanford to quit being pen pals with the White House and take the money”

State Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler says Governor Mark Sanford needs to spend less time writing letters to President Barack Obama about stimulus funds and more time finding jobs for South Carolinians.



March 18th, 2009
8:20 pm


2008 South Carolina Constitution


SECTION 1. Power of impeachment; vote required; suspension of officer impeached.

The House of Representatives alone shall have the power of impeachment in cases of serious crimes or serious misconduct in office by officials elected on a statewide basis, state judges, and such other state officers as may be designated by law. The affirmative vote of two-thirds of all members elected shall be required for an impeachment. Any officer impeached shall thereby be suspended from office until judgment in the case shall have been pronounced, and the office shall be filled during the trial in such manner as may be provided by law.

When the Governor is impeached, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or, if he be disqualified, the Senior Justice, shall preside, with a casting vote in all preliminary questions.


March 19th, 2009
7:11 pm

Fourth man arrested in connection with Thomas Ravenel cocaine case
Federal agents have made a new arrest in the Thomas Ravenel cocaine scandal


March 31st, 2009
7:15 am


“Buy Mark Sanford’s House For $3.5 Million”

South Carolina gov stands to reap a huge profit from 1997 investment

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford belongs to a dying breed.

We’re not talking here about fiscally conservative Republicans — he’ll probably have to buckle on spending $700 million from the Feds that he would rather use to pay down the state debt.

No, Sanford is something far more rare and far more precious than the fiscal conservative: he belongs to a species of mammal that once ranged proudly from the desert foothills of the American Southwest to the swamps of Florida. It was known as “the real estate speculator,” and for many months their increasingly infrequent sightings have been confined to dollar stores and bankruptcy courts.

But not Governor Sanford! He’s alive and doing fine.

He bought a house on Sullivan’s Island in 1997 for $482,500 and is now selling it for $3.5 million. Sure, 12 years of ownership and a full renovation make Governor Sanford a little different from your average house-flipper.

Unlike your circa-2006 real estate goon who would take an ugly little stucco ranch, slap some paint on it, install granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances from Home Depot and charge an extra $150,000 to the next sucker who wanted to buy it, Mark Sanford has at least legitimately classed up the joint. Heck, he probably even lived in it, or vacationed in it or whatever.

Speaking of: this 4,500-square-foot palace has a weekly vacation rental license, which means it probably wouldn’t even be that hard to pay the mortgage. In the summertime, at least.

And thus we arrive at the solution to all of South Carolina’s budget woes: Sanford donates his house to the state for a tidy tax deduction. The state rents the house to wealthy out-of-towners for $500,000 a week. They’ll pay off the state debt in no time.