Democratic strategists have deemed it a fruitless enterprise to go after Mark Sanford’s marital infidelities in the upcoming campaign against Elizabeth Colbert Busch for South Carolina’s 1st District. Sanford’s ethics violations, however, are tempting targets.
“Everyone knows about Sanford’s personal life situation,” one Democratic strategist involved in the election told The Hill. “We don’t intend to talk about that—but what people have forgotten, both in South Carolina and nationally, is there were other results from that situation. It wasn’t just about the Appalachian Trail, it was about what he did to people in the state.”
After Sanford’s now famous scandal–in which he traveled to Argentina in 2009 to visit a mistress, telling his staff he was hiking Appalachian Trail–a commission was assembled to determine whether Sanford had violated any ethics rules that might be cause for impeachment.
The commission found 37 possible violations, the majority of which related to Sanford’s use of state funds for private air travel. In the Republican-controlled statehouse, an ethics committee later dropped all the charges save four, to which Sanford pled no contest. The former governor ended up paying $74,000 in fines and $36,000 to cover the cost of the investigation–the largest ethics fine in the history of South Carolina.
“I suspect that the Colbert campaign is probably going to highlight that ethics report and things in there, which I do believe that Mark Sanford needs to answer for,” Democratic South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn said on msnbc’s Andrea Mitchell Reports Wednesday.
Sanford denies that he violated any ethics rules, citing his plea of no contest as a way to put the matter behind him. “He thought it’d be in the best interests of the state to just move forward rather than litigate it,” said Sanford campaign strategist Joel Sawyer, who insists that the former governor would have prevailed if he had gone forward with litigation.
Sanford’s opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, got an official (if expected) endorsement from her brother, fake news pundit Stephen Colbert, on The Colbert Report Wednesday night.
“I’m going to shock some people right now, and endorse my sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch for Congress,” Colbert said. “Yes, yes, she’s a Democrat, but she’s a business woman, a job creator, who, when raising three children on $14,000 a year, went back to school, built a 20-year career in international trade, and is now leading Mark Sanford in two consecutive polls. Are we ready to do this, nation?!”
Colbert plans to host two fundraisers for his sister this month, one in New York and one in Washington D.C. Tickets to both events will run guests up to $10,000, Politico reports. Colbert also hosted fundraisers for Colbert Busch this February in South Carolina and New York City.