Welcome Back, Sanford

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 15 2013 12:43 PM

Sanford's Back, Alright!

Rep.-elect Mark Sanford gets to nix the ugly hyphenated part of that title today. Just eight days after being elected to represent South Carolina's first congressional district, he's getting sworn in, and opening up the process to the media. At noon, Sanford invited campaign trail volunteers and hacks into his new office (the temporary sign announced the presence of "Marshall C. Sanford") and talked about the issues he would once again have the power to impact.

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What, for example, did Sanford make of the administration's IRS and journalist-bugging scandals? "Whether one views it from the left, with [a view toward] civil liberties, or from the right, with a view toward limited government," said Sanford. "I think these latest eruptions underscore the need to have a government that is once again a servant to folks, rather than one that over-reaches."

I was curious as to whether Sanford thought the laws that have turned 501(c)(4)s (not the ones victimized here, but others) into efficient conveyers of political money needed a second look. "In some cases," he said, "there are probably legitimate cases where those privileges are abused. I think in this case, you've got an IRS—given the way that they targeted certain groups, that raises concern. I don't think you'd see the degree of outcry that you have if people thought they were operating in a non-political context."

On to the party. A couple dozen Sanford friends gathered and supped on subs, macaroni salad, chops, water, cookies, and Coke products. Sanford's paramour-turned-fiancée Maria Belen-Chapur arrived shortly after noon, wheeling luggage behind her and kibbitzing with the new congressman's friends. In 20 minutes, no other members of the House GOP conference showed up, though one sent an avatar.

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David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.