SUMMERVILLE -- Gov. Mark Sanford has not decided whether he'll allow the State Ethics Commission to release information about a possible investigation into his use of state planes.
But he said he's still committed to transparency in government.
"We have no problem with transparency whatsoever, which is what this administration has consistently been about," he said Wednesday. "I think we have an incredibly great story to tell as far as watching out for taxpayers on airplanes. In so many ways, we tried to go the extra mile."
Sanford's use of state-owned planes has come under scrutiny after an Associated Press report found he used state aircraft for personal and political trips, often bringing along his wife and children, contrary to state laws governing their official use.
Not only is the commission looking into the issue, but state Sen. David Thomas, R-Greenville, has promised more scrutiny on the issue.
Asked if he expected to be impeached, Sanford said, "That's not where I'm focused. That's y'all's role in the media to say this could happen, that could happen, this could happen. What I have to focus on is this day and making the most by it. Then tomorrow I have to focus on tomorrow and making the most by it, and whatever people are going to do is what people are going to do."
Meanwhile, opposition to Sanford doesn't appear to be going away. On Wednesday, Charleston lawyer and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mullins McLeod called on Sanford to resign. "The recent developments, however, go far beyond the problems in his personal life and have hurt the state by misusing taxpayer monies when we can least afford it," McLeod said.
Sanford made his comments to reporters after appearing before the Summerville Rotary Club. It was one of his first public events in the Charleston area since late June, when his affair with an Argentinian mistress became known. That affair increased scrutiny on Sanford's travel.
Sanford began his comments to the club with an apology and a little philosophy.
"I think the measure of any of our lives is not ultimately recorded by whether we fall down in life but in how we get back up," he said. "There were incredible desires on my end just to go down to that farm in Beaufort County and hide out for the rest of my life, because that's the place that I love and there are no TV cameras there."
Sanford said he hoped lawmakers would be willing to work with him now that it's clear he is not using the office as a political stepping stone. "If anything is abundantly clear, it's that my time in politics is over. I'm not running for president. I'm not running for something after that. It is about the next 16 months."
He asked the audience to help him push for restructuring, including the elimination of the S.C. Budget and Control Board and creation of a Department of Administration run by the next governor, and letting voters decide whether certain state officials should be elected statewide or appointed by future governors. He also vowed to work on curbing spending.
Club members asked him only two questions -- whether he favored comprehensive tax reform and whether he planned to return to the Lowcountry once his term is over.
Sanford said he favors tax reform but doesn't expect any serious action next year and that he is planning to move back here.
Since the scandal broke, Sanford has spent much of the recent weeks traveling with his family or on other trips out of state.
His wife Jenny and four sons recently moved out of the governor's mansion in Columbia to their family home on Sullivan's Island.
Summerville Rotary President Sean Bennett said he was happy to see the conversation change. "He (Sanford) has got an agenda and wants to see governmental reform, and I would much rather see us have that conversation, about some substance, whether you agree with that or disagree with that, than some of the other things we're having to deal with on a daily basis."
Bennett said he wasn't sure if Sanford would have any more success in his final year. "Personally, I don't know that his relationship with the Legislature is going to change much. It hasn't necessarily been good in the past. This isn't going to make it any better, but I don't know if it makes it any worse."