Aside from the damage done to his standing as a social conservative, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s recent admission of an extramarital affair may end up tarnishing another of his political credentials — his carefully honed reputation as a tightfisted steward of taxpayer money.
A POLITICO analysis of hundreds of pages of state travel records requested to explore the circumstances of his affair found that in his 6 1/2 years as governor, Sanford traveled frequently and in a style markedly at odds with his political persona.
The records detail more than $468,000 worth of state-funded travel for Sanford and show that he routinely billed taxpayers for high-end airline seats, racking up more than $44,000 on business- and first-class tickets. He often stayed in pricey hotels that far exceeded the rates he imposed on other state employees.
On one overseas trip, the state appears to have spent more than $12,000 for the GOP governor’s business-class tickets for a September 2007 trade mission to China, while his aides flew in economy class for airfares as low as $1,900.