Gov. Mark Sanford has made a list as one of the nation's 11 worst governors, according to an ethics watchdog group.
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington criticized Sanford along with some of the nation's other highest-profile governors, including Mississippi's Haley Barbour, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, New York's David Paterson, Texas' Rick Perry, Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.
The group blasts Sanford for leaving the state last June to meet his mistress in Argentina, for refusing federal stimulus dollars and for violating campaign finance laws and improperly converting campaign funds for personal use.
Sanford spokesman Ben Fox called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics a liberal front group that has singled out conservative Southern governors for its "so-called nonparitsan hit list.
"In fact, it appears that Governor Sanford is in good company, from Governor Perry, who is on his way to winning his third term in office, and Governor Barbour, who's contemplating a presidential bid, to highly touted reformer Governor Jindal in Louisiana and Governor Perdue in Georgia," Fox said.
On March 31, Sanford paid $74,000, the largest ethics fine in South Carolina history, following an investigation launched after he confessed to an affair with the Argentine woman. Sanford also paid $36,498 to cover the State Ethics Commission's related costs for the investigation.
In March, Sanford entered a no-contest plea to 37 charges stemming from the commission's probe. He said he thought he would have been vindicated if the commission had heard the case, but he wanted to put the matter behind him.
S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, who is running for governor, has not said whether he will pursue charges against Sanford.
The others on the list of the 11 worst governors were Rhode Island's Donald Carcieri, Jim Gibbons of Nevada, Georgia's Sonny Perdue and South Dakota's Mike Rounds.
Nine of the governors on the list are Republicans and two are Democrats.
In 2005, Time magazine labeled Sanford as one of the nation's three worst state chief executives, based on its consultations with political analysts, academics and former governors.