Former Governor Mark Sanford left office in January, off to be with his girlfriend in Argentina or whatever other endeavors life deals him. Fair enough. But, after reviewing some campaign disclosures listed on the South Carolina Election Commission website, we were surprised to find that the former Governor still has an open campaign fund for his 2006 re-election bid.
VUI wrote earlier about this fund and how it was being used for political spending and fund raising that had nothing to do with Mark Sanford running for Governor. Sanford defenders cried out that the fund was needed and pointed to how the President had a political fund as well. Two wrongs do not make a right, so to speak, and the fact the campaign fund remains open on the public records is something to be concerned with.
As of the January 10th, 2011 report filed, the former Governor had $1,160,666.18 on hand in his 2006 re-election account. In the reporting period, around $1100 was spent for “beverages.” Now, much as been made ado about current Lt. Governor Ard’s campaign account for 2010 spending money at a dress shop. Yet, nothing is said about the former Governor’s 2006 account still being open and spending such money on “beverages.”
Indeed, since the former Governor was re-elected in 2006, a great deal of money has been raised and spent through his 2006 campaign account, including tens of thousands of dollars on legal and consulting fees. Again, over a million dollars remains “own hand” for it. Who knows what will be done with that money and how it could influence politics in South Carolina.
It might be legal, but there is something just flat wrong with an ex Governor having that kind of cash sitting around in an account that was created for his reelection over four years ago. It is certainly not in sync with the conservative and open government message of former Governor Sanford or Governor Haley. It smacks of ultimate good ole boy politics. Whatever the legal loophole found, it just seems sleazy.
Think on it. Is it too much to ask from politicians that they have an account for their elections, and when their elections are paid for, they close those accounts, say within six months of the election? How can we South Carolinians pretend to be for ethics and accountability when we allow a former Governor to keep raising and spending money from a campaign account meant for an election over four years ago? And, while the media folks at places like The State were quick to jump on Lt. Governor Ard, where are they on this issue? Where is Governor Haley? Where are members of the General Assembly who cry out about how they are for openness and ethics?
Ideally, VUI would have former Governor Sanford give the money in the account to some non political charity, such as the American Cancer Society or the like, and close the account. But, we won’t hold our breath.