Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How 'bout them ethics violations, Mark Sanford?

Think what you will of the whole "hiking the Appalachian Trail" thing. What bothered me about it was not so much what Mark Sanford did -- I'm no moralist -- but how he did it, and how he broke the public trust, and how he was such a hypocrite, a "family values" Republican whose own values were less than admirable.

And how did he do it? Well, by using state property, and by lying, and by sneaking off without telling anyone. When he did all that, it wasn't just personal anymore, it was public, and against the public interest. Governors and elected officials generally simply should not do what he did in the way he did it -- at the public's expense, without his security detail, while he was on the job.

And it goes much deeper than that. Sanford has been charged by the South Carolina Ethics Commission with 37 ethics violations. Some involve his Argentinian mistress, but all show him benefitting personally, in one way or another, from the use of state funds or resources -- or, rather, all show him using state funds and resources for personal gain or otherwise for non-official purposes.

Whether Sanford will be charged criminally is up to the state attorney general. Whether he is or isn't, though, I think we can safely conclude, without presuming guilt, that he hasn't exactly lived up to his oath.

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