|Governor of South Carolina|
From: January 15, 2003 – Present
|Predecessor||James Hovis Hodges|
|Successor||Incumbent (no successor)|
|U.S. Representative from South Carolina's 1 District|
From: January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
|Predecessor||Arthur Ravenel, Jr.|
|Successor||Henry E. Brown, Jr.|
|Spouse(s)||Jenny Sanford (div.)|
Mark Sanford (born 1960) is a former Republican Governor of South Carolina. A wealthy plantation owner from Florida, he was a real estate speculator in New York City before moving to Charleston in 1992. He was elected to Congress in 1994 and re-elected twice. He was elected governor in 2002 and reelected in 2006 in campaign managed by his wife. He gets along poorly with the Republican legislature, which overrode 95% of his hundreds of vetoes and for six years has rejected all his major proposals. New York bond agencies lowered the state's bond rating because of the state's inability to come to terms on the budget. Sanford insists his highest priority is paying off the state's bondholders, while Republicans want economic growth and more jobs. Nevertheless, Sanford made a rhetorical appeal to conservatives and had himself touted as a possible running mate for John McCain in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. He once had a reputation as an outspoken conservative, but now he is primarily the butt of jokes and ridicule. He is married with four sons, but his wife has separated after his notorious love affairs.
His political career has ended, with Republicans and conservatives demanding his resignation as the ethnic inquiry and impeachment process move forward, leaving only the question of how much longer he will bedevil the state of South Carolina.
Sanford made national headlines when he rejected a portion of the 2009 recovery act, even though South Carolina will pay the taxes for it. This has drawn the ire of Democrats and they have mounted a TV campaign against his move. Governor Sanford said "When one is in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging." He refused to expand unemployment coverage, despite the 11% unemployment rate in a poor state. After threats of lawsuits Sanford reluctantly agreed to use stimulus funds.
Sanford admitted June 24, 2009, to having an extra-marital affair and covering up a secret trip to visit his mistress in Argentina. He made the admission at a press conference meant to clear up a mysterious week-long absence where his staff initially explained by saying the Governor was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
"I've let down a lot of people. That's the bottom line," Sanford said. "I've been unfaithful to my wife." He said he is resigning as chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA). The RGA announced shortly afterward that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour would assume Sanford's RGA duties. 60 Republicans in the legislature demanded his resignation, but unlike New York governor Eliot Spitzer who resigned in 2008 when his sex scandals were revealed, Sanford decided to keep his salary coming.
Sanford faces formal ethics charges on 37 counts of using his office for personal financial gain, according to a list of allegations issued by the state ethics commission on Nov. 23, 2009.
A separate impeachment resolution has been filed in the State Legislature, but the ethics commission and the legislative action so far have dealt with different accusations. The ethics commission reviewed charges of misuse of public resources, while the impeachment resolution deals with the governor’s secret trip to Argentina in June 2009 to visit a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair. Sanford's wife has moved out and is not supporting him.
The impeachment measure is now under consideration in the state legislature. If it passes the Judiciary Committee with a majority vote from its 25 members, it would head to the House floor in January for debate. A two-thirds vote in favor would result in Sanford's suspension. The Senate, acting as jury, then would decide whether Sanford would be removed from office, which would also require a two-thirds vote.
Sanford has resolved to complete his term in office despite pressure from conservatives and most politicians to step down and despite the damage he is doing to the Republican Party and the conservative cause.