SLED chief: Sanford's personal time is his business
Since South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford returned from Argentina last week and admitted to having an affair, numerous state lawmakers have called for an investigation into the governor's travel and expenses. The results of that inquiry were released Thursday in a press conference. In this segment, WFAE's Julie Rose talks to our All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey about the findings, reactions and the politics behind calls for Sanford to resign. This segment also includes comments from South Carolina Law Enforcement Division chief Reggie Lloyd and Winthrop University political science professor Scott Huffmon. Mark: So Julie, what's the verdict? Julie: First of all Mark, this is not a criminal investigation. In fact, the head of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division - Reggie Lloyd - emphasized several times that he received no allegations and found no evidence Governor Sanford broke the law. For each of the five times Sanford has admitted to meeting with his Argentine girlfriend, Lloyd says the governor did so on his own time and covered his own expenses. And Sanford provided receipts to prove that. Mark: To be clear though, the governor did meet with his girlfriend while he was on official state business trips, is that correct? Julie: That's true, and that question did come up during the press conference and Reggie Lloyd was pretty animated in responding: "Let's be clear about something because those are the kind of mischaracterizations that start the public's misunderstanding of what's going on," Lloyd said. "He was on a business trip and what he did on his personal time is his own business. State employees go on business trips all year long, all over the place - conferences, other business matters. What they do at night is their business. As long as it's not illegal, we generally don't ask what they're doing." Mark: So, the governor has reimbursed the state, however for the Argentina leg of an official commerce trip. If what SLED Chief Reggie Lloyd is saying is true, why would he make that reimbursement? Julie: Well, Lloyd says that reimbursement was unnecessary from a legal standpoint. However, Governor Sanford did say in a statement last week that he felt there were legitimate concerns about those expenses, so he went ahead reimbursed the state about $3,000 just to be safe. Mark: And what about the governor's other visits to be with his mistress? Were they also part of official state business? Julie: A couple of them were. One happened during a meeting in New York paid for by the Republican Governors Association. The other was a stop in New York on a larger trip that was covered by the Republican National Committee. In both cases, Reggie Lloyd says Sanford covered the meals and other expenses of the time that he spent with his mistress. Mark: So where do we go from here? If Governor Sanford didn't break the law can he be forced to resign? Julie: It would be difficult to impeach the governor without some evidence of broken laws. And while many lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic side of the line are calling for the governor to resign, there aren't enough of them to make impeachment likely. After the results of today's inquiry were released, the chairwoman of the South Carolina Republican Party - Karen Floyd - released her most pointed statement yet. She stopped short of calling for resignation, but said, "There is clearly a growing view that the time may have come for Governor Sanford to remove himself and his family from the limelight." And the governor's wife, Jenny Sanford, also released a statement saying she's still open to reconciling with her husband. But she says it's up to the people and elected officials of South Carolina to decide whether they will give him another chance, too. Mark: Which brings us back to the issue of resignation. The governor said earlier this week he would listen to the will of the people, but that he still planned to keep his seat. Has any of that changed? Julie: Not on that front. In fact, some reports say he's actually digging in his heels - much the way he did during the whole debate over stimulus money. Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon says there's a pretty big battle going on behind the scenes: "The debate over whether or not our governor should step down is really be defined about the politics of what will happen on election day 2010 far more than by what happened on Father's Day weekend 2009," Huffmon said. Julie: So what he's saying there is if Governor Sanford were to resign, that would put Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer in charge for a year and a half. That would be a huge advantage to Bauer going into the elections next year if he was to run. But there are a lot of people with serious reservations about Bauer's abilities - and Governor Sanford is one of them. So Sanford may resist stepping down just to avoid giving Bauer a leg up. On the other hand, several of the Republican lawmakers most adamant that Sanford resign are big supporters of Lt. Gov. Bauer. So the allegiances are pretty tricky. On the other hand, the South Carolina Republican Party is concerned about getting another Republican elected Governor next year. The worry is that voters will be so soured by the Sanford scandal that they'll elect a Democrat. We've already seen a number of Republican candidates trying to distance themselves from Sanford.