Happy trails? Former Gov. Mark Sanford says he never let down South Carolina taxpayers

Updated
Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sandford
Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sandford
NBC News

Former AWOL South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford admitted to failings in aspects of his personal life, but argued he never let taxpayers down.

“If we live long enough, we’re going to fail at something and I absolutely failed in my personal life and in my marriage, but one place I didn’t ever fail was with the taxpayers,” he told NBC Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie on Tuesday. “If you look at my 20 years in politics, what you’d see is a fairly remarkable consistency in trying to watch out for the taxpayers.”

The once-rising star in the Republican Party wants a second chance with voters in a special election congressional election next month. He’s running in the Republican primary for a House seat in South Carolina’s 1st District, a position he once held from 1995 to 2001.

As governor of the state in 2009, Sanford famously lied about hiking the Appalachian Trail when, in fact, he was off on a fling with his mistress in Argentina. During this period, his whereabouts were unknown to the state government and his wife. He has since gotten divorced from his wife, and is on his way to marrying his mistress.

After the saga, Sanford was slapped with an ethics fine for misuse of taxpayer funds and forced to resign as head of the Republican Governors Association. Sanford downplayed the ethics violations, saying “it’s a much longer story” and insisted it isn’t proof of any guilt. “There was no admission of guilt with any of that,” he declared. “I did use business class on legitimate business trips.”

Sanford, who is still a front-runner in the Republican-leaning district, could face off against Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert (though her name is pronounced with a hard ‘T’).

Colbert Busch joins The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell in her first national TV appearance on Wednesday at10pm ET on msnbc.

Happy trails? Former Gov. Mark Sanford says he never let down South Carolina taxpayers

Updated