COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Ben Fox, communications director for Governor Mark Sanford, issued the following statement in response to an Associated Press investigation that found Sanford paid over $42,000 in taxpayer money for overseas flights that could've been saved by using commercial flights.
"Not only do these same AP reporters once again cherry-pick from the facts to tell their own version of a story, but their lack of context is stunning. Here are the facts:
"This been the practice of Commerce Departments through both Republican and Democratic administrations. We don't make the arrangements for these trips, nor do we micromanage how the Commerce Department decides to get to and from meetings in the most expeditious fashion. That said, it's ludicrous to suggest that Commerce could somehow arrange a whole bevy of tightly-scheduled, high-level meetings with international CEOs and Heads of State using Expedia or Travelocity.com alone.
"What the AP writers ignore is that these high-level meetings in Europe have reaped tremendous dividends back here in South Carolina. The 2007 economic development trip alone led in large part to hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions in investment: meeting with GE Aviation, which just recently announced a 100 job and multi-million dollar expansion at their Greenville facility and a joint venture with SKF to add another 100 jobs; meeting with Daimler Trucks/Freightliner, who moved its marketing and sales operations to York County and created 340 jobs for the state; and among other meetings, meeting with BMW leaders - which is relevant because BMW recently decided to expand in Spartanburg County to the tune of $750 million in capital investment and 500 more jobs for the community. The AP's decision to completely ignore these huge benefits to the state is more than telling.
"Finally, it's important to remember that this Administration has cut its travel budget by over 60 percent compared with the previous administration, and in fact, when you stack up the total costs of these overseas trips against other governors' trips, we fare exceedingly well - especially considering that if the AP had looked at other trips by earlier administrations, they'd find single trips overseas costing over $100,000."