On Thursday, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Mark Sanford would have to take $700 million in federal economic stimulus aid. He’d balked at taking the money. But the state legislature forced his hand over concerns that the money would be spent in other states while South Carolina taxpayers would still be responsible for paying it back.
Here’s a timeline breaking down the journey:
March 10: Sanford says he’ll ask President Barack Obama if he can spend the money to pay down state debt. S.C. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Cooper (R-Piedmont) says he’s “mystified.”
March 16: Obama says, “No,” while the Democratic National Committee runs an ad targeting Sanford for his stand against spending the money. The governor calls the ad’s timing “disturbing.”
March 20: The White House refuses a second Sanford pitch to spend the money on debt related to school construction. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley sends a letter signed by more than 75 municipal leaders to the governor telling him to take the money. Riley calls Sanford’s efforts “foolishness.”
March 31: A rally in Charleston calls on Sanford to accept the stimulus aid. One man’s sign reads, “Lay off Sanford.”
April 1: White House says the stimulus request is up to Sanford. S.C. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leathermen (R-Florence) predicts “Armageddon.”
April 7: Sanfordville, a pro-stimulus tent city rally, pitches camp in a park across from the Governor’s Mansion in Columbia. Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer warns of “misinformation.”
April 8: State Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden), a gubernatorial primary candidate, pitches a plan to force Sanford to take the money. State Attorney General Henry McMaster, a likely GOP primary gubernatorial candidate, warns of a looming “constitutional standoff.”
April 9: Sanford releases his own anti-stimulus ad, calling it a “counterpoint.”
April 15: Tea parties! Bring your own crumpets. Sanford crowds reportedly shout “president.”
April 23: S.C. Supreme Court refuses premature case brought by S.C. students. Court refers to the issue as “not ripe.”
May 19: Sanford vetoes a state budget proviso that requires him to take the money. He calls legislative posturing “fear-mongering.”
May 20: Legislature overrides the veto. State Education Department spokesman Jim Foster: “Woohoo!”
May 21: Sanford sues the state. Says it’s about “precedent.”
May 26: McMaster says Sanford’s court case could backfire, weakening the governor’s office to the point of “irrelevancy.”
June 1: Federal court says the case is in the state court’s hands. State Education Superintendent Jim Rex (another potential gubernatorial candidate) calls the whole thing a “fiasco.”
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