Opinion

Commentary: Sanford has a long way to go to make amends

No one should be surprised that practically every move Gov. Mark Sanford ever made — or will make — in administering the duties of his office is being probed and prodded.

For better or worse, that's what happens when trust is broken. In personal relationships, the offended has been known to go as far as rifling through belongings, drawers, checkbooks, e-mail and cell phone messages and records. I wouldn't recommend any of that; it's an unhealthy existence.

But that's the kind of tension, stress and distrust that broken trust can produce.

I don't know — and don't want to know — how Jenny Sanford has reacted privately since learning about her husband's infidelity in their marriage. But the media, various lawmakers and South Carolinians have made it clear they intend to find out just what this governor has been up to.

That's why they're probing e-mails, travel records and the like. And unlike the sensitive nature of the Sanfords' personal business, this is public business: Taxpayers and voters have a right to know.

The drip, drip, drip of unearthed questions about Mr. Sanford's tenure in office make it difficult for him as he attempts to rebuild trust. He's admitted being in error for leaving the governor's office unoccupied during a six-day visit with his Argentine mistress; he's asked for forgiveness and he's said he'll work to fulfill the duties of his office in the time he has remaining.

Some people have forgiven Mr. Sanford; some never will. But the governor's focus must be on making sure the people get the truth about his actions as governor, past and present. He can't get caught up in a back and forth, trying to justify his actions or hold it against people because they're not ready to move on. After all, he's the one who left the state in a lurch, not the other way around.

The people who entrusted this office to him deserve the truth — about everything public. He must be willing to allow that or vacate the office.

To read the complete column, visit www.thestate.com.

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