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Sanford Forced to Apply for Stimulus Funds

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford reluctantly applied for $700 million in stimulus funds after the state Supreme Court forced him to do so in June. The court reasoned that since the legislature had appropriated these funds already, and appropriating funds is the legislature’s and not the governor’s responsibility under the state constitution, Sanford was obligated to apply.

Gov. Mark Sanford at a June budget meeting.

Sanford had said that he would only apply for the funds if he could use them to pay down the state’s debt, an idea rebuffed by the Obama administration. In a letter to Arne Duncan that accompanied his application, he wrote, “It’s important to state one last time for the record what a monumentally terrible idea I believe the entire so-called stimulus act is.”

Sanford’s refusal to apply had turned him into a lightning rod, with Democrats and even many Republicans accusing him of playing politics at the expense of schools but other Republicans seeing him as a true representative of fiscal responsibility. Speculation abounded that Sanford was positioning himself for a presidential run in 2012, until his recent admission of marital infidelity all but closed the door on that prospect.