MOUNT PLEASANT — Former Gov. Mark Sanford, long an opponent of using federal stimulus money as a way to help the economy, on Monday criticized the use of millions of dollars in those funds for the university research facility where his Democratic congressional opponent works.
Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of political satirist Stephen Colbert, quickly responded to Sanford’s comments, saying they were “just another perfect example of Mark playing fast and loose with the facts.”
The former Republican governor walked into a dry cleaning shop with a basket of laundry to make the point that jobs are better created by such small businesses.
He faces Colbert Busch in a May 7 special election for the state’s vacant 1st District congressional seat.
Sanford, who opposed the state getting stimulus money as governor, said Obama administration figures show $43 million in the funds went to the Clemson University Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility. But he noted only 134 jobs have been created or saved – breaking down to about $320,000 per job.
Colbert Busch, on leave from her position as director of business development at the facility, responded that the place is still under construction and studies have shown the wind power industry will eventually mean 20,000 jobs for South Carolina.
“When it comes to our energy, we don’t need an either-or policy, but a business-minded comprehensive approach in order for America to truly become energy independent,” she said. “As a businesswoman, I’m proud of bringing together both the public and private sectors as partners that can invest in South Carolina not only today, but for generations to come.”
“Elizabeth and I are both for creating jobs,” Sanford said. “The question is how are you going to create a job? We think there is a real contrast between where we stand and where my opponent stands.”
The owner of Lyerly’s Cleaners, Bob Lloyd, said with $320,000 he could open two new locations and create 10 to 12 additional jobs.
Sanford said the best way to create jobs is to reduce government spending and regulation, provide tax incentives and let those jobs be created by the private sector.
He said he has no problem with the government helping finance basic research at colleges and universities “but that wasn’t the purpose of the stimulus package.”
Sanford is trying to wage a comeback after his political career was derailed four years ago when his disappeared from the state for five days only to return and confess an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman to whom he is now engaged.