Lt. Gov. Bauer caught twice for speeding recently, got no tickets - - Columbia, South Carolina

Lt. Gov. Bauer caught twice for speeding recently, got no tickets

"I accept responsibility for having a lead foot." "I accept responsibility for having a lead foot."

(Columbia-AP) March 28, 2006 - Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer has been stopped at least twice for speeding in the past four months, but did not get a ticket.

WIS obtained a copy of Bauer's driving record. It show's that since 1997, the lieutenant governor has had two accidents, four tickets and one suspended license for failure to pay a ticket.

That does not include the warning he got in late December for speeding in Laurens County, or the time he was stopped and still not ticketed for going more than 100 miles an hour down I-77 in Chester County.

On the day after Christmas on Interstate 385 in Laurens County, a highway patrol officer pulls up on a 2006 BMW. The patrolman has clocked the car at about 77 in a 65 mile-an-hour zone. Behind the wheel is Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer. Looking for his registration, Bauer warns the officer he might have a gun in the glovebox, and he wants to know if he's being videotaped.

Bauer's explanation for going too fast? "Just running late as usual."

The trooper recognizes the lieutenant governor and Bauer gets a warning but no ticket.

Two months later, on February 25 in Chester County, two troopers target a state-issued Crown Victoria blasting down I-77 at over 100 miles an hour. As the troopers try to catch up, someone on their police radio calls to let them know the driver of the car is "SC-2," code for the lieutenant governor.

It is Bauer himself, using a two-way radio in his car. [Read transcript.]

When the car finally stops, one trooper pulls alongside, sees that it's Bauer, and waves him on. No ticket is issued, not even a warning.

Public safety director Jim Schweitzer says, "What we're telling our troopers is that we treat everyone, no matter their status, fairly and equitably."

The lieutenant governor has had at least one other run-in with law enforcement. In 2003, a police officer stopped Bauer for speeding and running red lights in downtown Columbia. Bauer was going 60 miles-an-hour in a 35 miles-per-hour zone. The officer briefly held Bauer at gunpoint.

Bauer said he was late for a Senate session and later, apologized, "I understand that as lieutenant governor, the citizens of South Carolina have elected me to a position of great trust. With that great trust comes responsibility, including holding myself to a higher standard of conduct which includes safe driving."

In the current incident, Bauer has also issued an apology, "I made a mistake, I am embarrassed by these events, and I accept responsibility for having a lead foot.

"In my role as Lieutenant Governor, I am called upon to participate in many events across the state, and I am honored to do so. Unfortunately, this often leads me to over-extend myself, and in my eagerness I have made honest mistakes.

"However, I don't expect to be treated any differently than other citizens of South Carolina.

"I would like to apologize for the negative attention that my actions have brought to the Office of Lieutenant Governor and for the time and attention that has been taken away from the important issues facing the citizens of South Carolina because of it."

Bauer says he's just going to have to cut back on the commitments that have him dashing from place to place.

But there are political leaders that aren't okay with the apology. Joe Erwin, Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, for instance, released the following statement: "Andre Bauer has demonstrated once again his unbelievable immaturity and lack of good judgment. His continuing actions endanger the safety of other drivers and pedestrians."

Senator Jake Knotts, on the other hand, talks about the pressures that fueled the speeding, "You can't condone the speeding, but the people out there demand he be there. They want him there. They want him there speaking and carrying on the business of the Lt. Governor's office. "

But Senator John Courson says no one in South Carolina should be pushing speed limits over 100 without paying the penalty, "I think no one should be above paying the penalties involved in breaking the law. I think it would be appropriate for him to offer to pay whatever the fines may be."

Governor Mark Sanford has also issued a statement on the stops, "This isn't about any one individual. This is about making sure that whether it's a mayor, a judge, a legislator or a constitutional officer, preferential treatment should never enter the realm of law enforcement."

As for the highway patrol, Schweitzer is making it clear to his officers that traffic laws must be enforced in a fair and impartial manner, even when the offender is a prominent person, or a public official.

The patrol says Bauer asked for the two-way radio to be put in his car for security reasons. Schweitzer says Bauer misused that radio in Chester County. The director also says Bauer should have been given a ticket in that case.

Bauer plans to run for re-election. His challenger is Mike Campbell. Bauer predicts his speeding will be the biggest issue, "The voters will learn more about a bad driving habit in the next 12 hours than they will about everything I've done in the past 10 years being a public servant."

Reported by Jack Kuenzie with AP

Updated 4:13pm by Bryce Mursch

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