House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, has entered the South Carolina congressional special election with $600,000-plus advertising buy, targeting Republican candidate Mark Sanford with video from the former governor's 2009 tear-filled press conference admitting his affair with an Argentinian journalist.
The ad knocks Sanford specifically for charging South Carolina taxpayers $400,000 in airfare for trips to France, China and Argentina when serving as governor. Sanford was fined $74,000 by the State Ethics Commission for using state aircraft for personal travel, including to visit the woman who is now his fiancee.
"The list of Mark Sanford's transgressions, hypocrisy and duplicity is lengthy -- but South Carolina voters' memories are just as long," House Majority PAC spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement.
Pointing to the ethics violations is an oblique way of bringing up the scandal that earlier derailed Sanford's political career. After his staff stated that he was away "hiking the Appalachian Trail" in 2009, Sanford returned from his true location, Argentina, to hold an embarrassing press conference in which he said, while wiping away tears, that he had fallen in love with a woman who was not his wife.
The ad comes on the heels of the news that Sanford's former wife, Jenny Sanford, has filed a complaint accusing him of trespassing at her home. Mark Sanford's explanation was that he sneaked in to watch the Super Bowl with his son.
Sanford is running to reclaim a seat he once held in Congress that was made vacant by GOP Sen. Tim Scott's appointment to fill the Senate seat previously occupied by Jim DeMint. He is running against Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert. The special election will be held on May 7.
CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this story implied that Mark Sanford resigned as South Carolina governor following the revelation of his extramarital affair. Despite calls for his resignation, Sanford served out the remainder of his term. Also, the house at which he is accused of trespassing is his former wife's new home, not their old house.