Sanford or no Sanford - the need for reform remains

For six years, Governor Sanford repeatedly called for sweeping reforms and increased accountability in state government. While his actions have show his commitment to reform to be hollow, there is no small irony in how his actions – and those of his administration - have helped make the case that the need for governmental reform is greater than at any time since the days of Operation Lost Trust.

This blog sounded the alarm about how Sanford, who once called out for cleaning up campaign finance in South Carolina, abandoned this reform effort as soon as large amounts of undisclosed third-party cash began working on his behalf. Without his support, campaign finance disclosure reforms are no closer to getting passed than before Sanford took office. This first test of his commitment to reform showed that Sanford was far more adept at political posturing than being truly committed to reforming state government, as well as the state’s nasty reputation for pay-to-play politics.

One must wonder how a Governor who disappears for days at a time can exercise proper stewardship of state government. The failures of SC DSS resulted in mega-million dollar fines which compounded the state’s budget shortfall, allowed millions to be embezzled, and asked no questions when children died in DSS care. Similar problems of neglect and lack of leadership plague other agencies under the Governor’s authority, including Corrections and PRT. It is little comfort in knowing that once caught, Sanford will pay the state back for his trips to Argentina. Real reform should ensure that effective checks-and-balances are placed upon all parts of state government to ensure that much-needed stewardship of each agency and department.

But the problems aren't just with Sanford. During his tenure in office, the state saw not just one, but two, constitutional officers removed from office and convicted on federal charges – the first such occurrences in decades. Orangeburg County – one of the poorest in the country – has struggled through a string of indictments and convictions of county and municipal officials. The sum total of these problems add up to a troubling pattern of problems which cry out for real reform.

There’s nothing to suggest that Sanford, whose record of working with others is virtually non-existent, will listen to the voices of Republicans who are concerned that Sanford’s negative ratings will gut his party in the upcoming 2010 elections and resign. While examples of voter backlash against the parties associated with scandal-ridden Governors in other states, most notably Ohio in 2006, support their concerns, there is little to be gained by the GOP-led General Assembly leading a high-profile witch hunt that consumes much of the agenda for next year’s legislative session.

Whether Sanford resigns this year, or leaves when his term ends in 18 months, he will soon be gone (as if his administration has any relevance anyway). Therefore the General Assembly should focus on the positive and work on long-overdue ethical reforms which can help ensure the next administration starts off on a more productive footing.

Enacting long-overdue campaign finance reform and setting higher standards for the stewardship of government in South Carolina should be among the top priorities for the General Assembly when it returns in January.

7 Response to "Sanford or no Sanford - the need for reform remains"

  1. mg 1/7/09 17:41
    The Turkey is done time to take it out the oven.
  2. Juicy Tomato 2/7/09 00:48
    Earl you talked about the PalmettoVore campaign that Agriculture is doing.

    What I want to know is do you think Mark Sanford is a PalmettoVore?
  3. Earl Capps 2/7/09 00:51
    Juicy, I don't know the answer to that one.
  4. Anonymous 2/7/09 08:31
    This is than the the former Ag Commissioner who got involved with cock rings.
  5. Earl Capps 2/7/09 09:28
    Cockfighting rings, coke and Palmettovores. That's a heck of a combination!
  6. Anonymous 2/7/09 09:43
    So, for any successor, if inclined to reform, rather than the good ol' RINO an' bubba system, the same crap thrown at Sanford will be scooped up and hurled again.

    Not that this ought to be a suprise.
  7. Anonymous 2/7/09 09:45
    Michael Vick for governor...

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