COLUMBIA, S.C. (CN) -Gov. Mark Sanford violated state law by charging taxpayers for expensive business and first-class flights, a legislative committee has found. State law requires lawmakers to book the cheapest fares possible when they purportedly travel on state business. While the trips to China in 2007 and London in 2008, are not directly related to Sanford’s relationship with his Argentine mistress, all of his activities since taking office in 2001 are receiving greater scrutiny since his admission of the affair.
The budget subcommittee, chaired by state Sen. David Thomas, said Sanford’s more expensive flights on the two state Commerce Department trips cost taxpayers $13,700 more than the economy class flights available.
The committee has sent its findings to Senate leaders without recommendations.
Legislators can consider a wide range of sanctions against the governor, from simply demanding the state be reimbursed to impeachment, though Thomas said the latter is unlikely based on these findings alone.
Benjamin Fox, a week into his new role as Sanford’s spokesman, dismissed the committee’s conclusions, saying that Sanford considers them “not correct.”
Since admitting to his affair in June, Sanford has vowed to stay in office and has made several attempts to get back to business, telling reporters who show up for his public events in droves that “it’s time to move on.”
The governor also says he’s still trying to reconcile with his wife, Jenny Sanford, who moved out of the governor’s mansion last week and is now living with their sons at the family’s beachfront home on Sullivan’s Island, outside of Charleston.
A separate investigation of Sanford’s use of state aircraft is continuing.