My Sunday column makes the case that Will Folks’ op-ed was worth running because it gave insight into his character and judgment, and therefore into the judgment of his boss, Gov. Mark Sanford. So what does the governor himself have to say about that?
Before asking the governor Friday about Rep. Gresham Barrett’s comments, I asked him one other question:
"Why was Will Folks your press secretary for four years?"
His answer was too involved to just slip into my column without ditching several of the comments from readers that were the reason for the column. And I sure don’t want to write another column on this subject. But I just had to share it, so here goes:
The governor began by noting that Will Folks hadn’t been his spokesman as governor for four years. That period started with the campaign, and that’s when he and Mr. Folks forged their bond, such as it is.
"You start out with a grass-roots campaign, you have very little in the way of resources," the governor said. "You’re working out of the basement of your house…. You can’t afford all the bells and whistles" of a full-blown, professional campaign with experienced people in all the key positions. In any case, he added, that kind of uptight, do-it-by-the-book campaign wasn’t his style.
So, he said, "You take someone who was playing bass guitar in a rock ‘n’ roll band and you give him a chance." (We all knew that’s what he did, but it meant a little more having the governor just say it that way.)
"Given the pressures he was under and the challenges he faced that he had never faced before, I think he did a pretty good job," during the campaign, Mr. Sanford said.
So after the election, he decided to give the young man the same job in the governor’s office. There, as we all saw, Mr. Folks moved from gaffe to gaffe — the Corvette thing, the comments about the Commission on Women, the alleged threats to the Chamber in Anderson.
The governor doesn’t deny that. But, he said, "For the most part, he did a pretty good job."
Bottom line as to why he kept him on so long? "I did it because he was competent," said the governor.
That’s pretty much all he would say for the record. Make of it what you will.