Tom Davis trying to make a tough call

It’s one thing for Jake Knotts or even Hugh Leatherman, neither of whom are particularly fond of Mark Sanford, to call for the governor’s resignation — or even Glenn McConnell, for that matter.

It would be another if Tom Davis, the governor’s close friend and former chief of staff — a guy who lived in the governor’s basement during his first campaign in 2002 — issued a similar call. Which is why Tom is weighing the decision so carefully. The interesting thing is that this situation has become so extreme, the governor has gone so far outside the realm of the acceptable, that a serious, good, loyal guy like Tom Davis would even be talking about thinking about it. But he is, as evidenced by this statement he has posted:

Statement from Tom Davis July 1, 2009
Posted on July 1, 2009

Statement by Tom Davis re: Governor Mark Sanford

I came to Columbia today because I have a responsibility to the taxpayers of Beaufort County and the people of South Carolina. Obviously I have tremendous concern for my friends, Mark and Jenny Sanford and their family, but I also have a job to do as an elected official.

Before any important decision I make comes due diligence, and I owe it to my constituents to perform that due diligence before taking a public position on an issue as important as whether to call for the resignation of a duly-elected statewide official.

Accordingly, I have met today with the governor and members of his staff; I have had telephone conversations with my friend, Jenny Sanford; I have talked with the governor’s legislative supporters and opponents; and I have talked with key reform leaders who have been fighting for the issues I believe in – fiscal responsibility, limited government, market principles and individual liberty.

I am also planning on speaking today with Attorney General Henry McMaster and SLED Chief Reggie Lloyd, and am I particularly interested in learning the outcome of SLED’s review as to whether the governor has ever illegally used any state funds. I am told that review will be completed by tomorrow.

Again, this is a critical decision for the State of South Carolina and I want to rely on firsthand conversations, not media reports, rumors, political pressure or speculation.

Based on these conversations, I expect to form my official position very shortly. But I can assure you that whatever official position I ultimately reach will be one that I truly believe to be in the best interests of the people of Beaufort County in particular and the state of South Carolina in general.

In the meantime, I would encourage all South Carolinians to keep the Sanfords in their thoughts and prayers.

Things have come to such a pass, the governor has seemed so out of control, that I was actually hearing from liberal Democrats today who, when they heard Tom was coming up to see the governor, said that was a relief, because he needed someone trustworthy to be checking up on him. They were actually worried about the governor’s safety, or they said they were. I had the same thought — I was glad Tom Davis was checking up on him. If I were in trouble, I’d want a guy like Tom checking up on me. (I’ve written in the past about what a good guy he is.)

But it wasn’t until I read the above statement that I realized just how far Tom’s own thoughts had gone.

17 thoughts on “Tom Davis trying to make a tough call

  1. Randy E

    “Thoughts and prayers for the Sanfords” as in the family as a unit is an example of the problem here. The governor is a human and deserves prayers but he is on his own. Mrs. Sanford and the boys are the family unit. Sanford didn’t have a weak moment, he took repeated, premeditated actions to betray his wife and their sons. Yet the governor’s apologists want to side step the pathetic actions of the Raging Bull of the Pampas.

  2. portia

    This reminds me of the time Wilson got so mad at House he finally stopped talking to him. During the initial rambling press conference, Sanford kept mentioning Tom Davis, as if he was the only friend who was still able to tolerate someone so wholly self absorbed, and I kept thinking of House and Wilson.

  3. normivey

    If the SLED review determines that the governor used other public funds, then I would think that Davis’s mind would be made up for him. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if he did use additional taxpayer dollars for any of his trysts. Of course, if he did, the state suffers another day of negative national news coverage.

    There is nothing wrong with the governor’s mental well-being. Sanford is an intractable and self-absorbed person, and his actions and words are the actions and words of an intractable and self-absorbed man. I’m no fan of Andre Bauer, but at this point it seems that the best thing the governor could do for the state is resign. If Davis really does have the best interests of his friend and South Carolina at heart, I believe he should encourage the governor to resign. Once out of the news and public eye, then it really does become a personal rather than a political issue. I predict that he will not resign. His stubbornness and belief in his own vision for the state will not allow him to serve the state by stepping down.

  4. SGMret

    Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Glenn McConnell is the single most powerful man in SC politics and government? (Talk about the poster boy for term limits!)

    So, Sen. McConnell is now taking the highroad, the gentlemanly position in regards to whether the Gov. should resign. Well, I guess the good senator can afford to take that stand since Mark Sanford has been the only person in state government or the Republican Party to offer any counterpoise to McConnell’s near dictatorial powers.

    To be sure, the Gov. hasn’t done this by virtue of his sterling executive leadership (since his office essentially has no powers and Sanford has alienated nearly everyone who could ever cooperate with him), but rather he has done it by essentially fracturing the state Republican Party.

    One of the other bloggers offered up the scenario: If Sanford resigns, Bauer ascends to the governorship, and McConnell bows down temporarily as speaker to allow Jake Knotts the position and ultimately the Lt. Governorship. McConnell then resumes his position as speaker with his two “yes men” in the positions of Gov. and Lt. Gov.

    If this wasn’t SC it would sound like some corrupt ex-Soviet republic handing the reigns of power to a former KGB apparatchik.

    So, Sanford’s resignation would essentially hand over all de facto political and governmental power to one man – Glenn McConnell. No wonder McConnell’s sittin’ in the catbird seat.

    If Tom Davis really cares about SC, he’ll encourage Mark Sanford to put his stubborn streak to good use for once and refuse to kowtow to the McConnell cabal.

    Of course, we now know why Sanford has adamantly denied any aspirations to the White House over these last months. He undoubtedly knew this skeleton would be dancin’ out of his closet after only the most superficial examination.

    I think Sanford’s behavior has been reprehensible, and if there were any other reasonable alternatives, I’d call for his resignation, too. But given the likelihood of McConnell seizing even more power, the best bet is for Sanford to stay right where he is.

  5. SGMret

    An’ since we’re comparin’ Jenny Sanford to Hil Clinton, maybe we can take the comparison one step further.

    How about Jenny Sanford for Governor in 2010?

    (I suspect that she’s too smart and not nearly egotistical enough for the job, but we can hope for some adult leadership for a change.)

  6. Greg Flowers

    Now that it has been found that there was no improper use of public monies, the only reason for the Governor to step down would be if his emotional state is such that he is unable to perform his duties. There is talk now of his taking a 60 day leave of absence. He can be removed on a temporary basis if a majority of the atty. gen., sec of state, comp. gen. and treas. feel that he is unable to perform.

    Having no insider information, he appears to be a man under incredible strain and it appears that it would be better for both him and the State if he were to step aside (as much as the specter of a Bauer governorship troubles me.) However, he seems to enjoy the role of standing alone against the many. Word is he is planning a statewide “forgiveness tour.”
    Enough already. I believe in your principals, I respect you as a man but the situation has gotten the better of you and it is time to stand down.

  7. Steve Gordy

    While I hold no brief for Sanford’s conduct, he was right (regrettably) about the excessive power of the legislature. ‘Tis a pity he never saw the potential of leading a reform movement that wasn’t focused around him and his vision. SC is in sad shape and it isn’t for lack of leadership talent. For the Republicans, David Wilkins or Henry McMaster would make a far better governor than any of the current Bauer-McConnell-Knotts gang. So would Democrats such as Inez Tenenbaum and Jim Rex.

  8. Bart

    SGMret, we had a similar scenario many years ago when Donald S. Russell was Governor and the quick moves behind the scenes when Senator Olin Johnston died. Russell resigned as governor and after Lt. Governor Robert McNair assumed office, he appointed Russell to finish out Johnston’s term. The voters were not thrilled at his move and obvious attempt to “step up in political power” by sending him home in favor of Fritz Hollings. McNair was not ousted, re-elected and served a full term as governor. We all know about the long, very long, tenure in the Senate for Fritz Hollings. So, for South Carolina, this is nothing new.

    As for powerful people in SC politics, don’t forget the diminutive, Napoleon complex riddled, State Senator Hugh Leatherman. Cross him and you’re a dead politician walking in Columbia. You can bet that any actions concerning Bauer, Knotts, and McConnell will have his blessings and stamp of approval.

  9. Randy E

    Brad, Tom is pained? I think the 4 boys feel the most pain. Sanford callously put them in a horrible position.

    Anyway, it’s more than Tom Davis. Graham talked about IF Sanford could reconcile then all is well and Sanford skates. Other apologists have taken similar stances. When it was Clinton, it was the worst crime ever committed now it’s a private matter and God’s mercy is invoked.

    Davis and others could show sympathy for the wife and kids but leave Mark Sanford out of all this – “I feel for Jenny and the kids and hope everything works out for them.”

  10. SGMret

    Thanks for the history lesson, Bart.

    You’d think that sometime we might move on past the days of the yeller-dawg Democrats, but the Repubs in SC seem just as power-hungry and entrenched as the post-reconstruction Dems ever were.

    It’s time to take our state government out of the 19th and into the 21st Century.

    Term Limits! Term Limits! Term Limits! And while we’re at it, how about a real executive branch.

  11. Bart

    Before we can bring our state government into the 21st century, we must first rid ourselves of an entrenched 19th century mentality evidenced in so many of our citizens who vote. The problem is not one of party identification but education of the citizenry.

  12. SGMret

    To be sure, education is a cornerstone of a rational, clear-thinking electorate, as well as, a progressive and productive society.

    However, part of the mentality that keeps us tied to the 19th Century is the “farm animal” attitude that many people have in their relationship between themselves and government. They are content to surrender the control of their lives as long as someone else is willing to take that power in return for keeping the “slop buckets” full.

    I would even go so far as to say that the contemporary trends in the mentality of the electorate are actually turning the clock back to the days of the plantation.

    Slavery was evil, but self-imposed domestication is no better. A person must chose to walk along the path that leads away from the little shack of dependency, but even more, that same person is the only person who can actually make that journey by putting one foot in front of the other. Sitting in the shack waiting for the next handout is just another form of slavery.

    If someone dosen’t like that shack, my advice is to start walking and stop waiting for the next handout. Some education is about more than the three-R’s, some lessons are about just putting one foot in front of another.

  13. martin

    I think the mentality that holds SC back the most, is voting for someone based on the R or D after their name.

    In SC, since the days of Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, then the advent of the Christian Right, we’ve been voting more and more for the R. It appears all the Rs have to do is use a few code words to get pretty much blind loyalty from their supporters. Just like the days when we voted solid D. And, just like many Ds do today, too.

    Since the current scandal broke, I’ve been seeing references to C Street, The Fellowship/The Family and following some links this apparent cult-like religious/political organization that has it’s grip on several SC politicians. One of the links led me to a quote from Sinclair Lewis: “When facism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible”.

    Does that explain some of the hypocrisy, political and personal, that we see?

  14. Lee Muller

    Fascism is here, and it is talking about empathy for Muslims, economic justice, climate change, and reparations from the rich. Its leader is a charismatic orator puppet, who has done nothing in his life but believes he can run everyone else’s life.


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