Gov. Mark Sandford Soaked Taxpayers So His Family Could Fly In State Planes


Uh-Oh.  Another fiscal conservative shows true colors.

Gov. Mark Sanford used state aircraft for personal and political trips, often bringing along his wife and children — contrary to state law regarding official use, an Associated Press investigation has found.

According to state budget law, “Any and all aircraft owned or operated by agencies of the State Government shall be used only for official business.”

Records reviewed by the AP show that since he took office in 2003, the two-term Republican has taken trips on state aircraft to his sons’ sporting events, hair and dentist appointments, political party gatherings and a birthday party for a campaign donor.

On March 10, 2006, a state plane was sent to pick up Sanford in Myrtle Beach and return him to Columbia, the state capital, at a cost of $1,265 — when his calendar showed his only appointment in Columbia was “personal time” at his favorite discount hair salon. He had flown to Myrtle Beach on a private plane and attended a county GOP event.

The trip home on the state aircraft took off at 1:50 p.m. and arrived in Columbia at 2:35 p.m., enabling the governor to keep his plans for a 3 p.m. haircut across town. There were no other appointments on his official schedule; the trip back to Columbia would have taken about three hours by car.

Also, on five of the last six Thanksgiving weekends, Sanford used a state plane to fly himself, his wife, Jenny, and their four sons from the family’s plantation in Beaufort County to Columbia for the state Christmas tree lighting. The cost for those flights alone: $5,536, including $2,869 for flying the plane empty to pick them up.

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