Sanford against security system

COLUMBIA, S.C. --- Gov. Mark Sanford and the South Carolina Legislature are taking a long-running fight outside in what amounts to a parking lot scuffle.


The governor has repeatedly criticized the GOP-controlled Legislature for spending $6 million on a security system that includes what's supposed to be an automated gate to keep unauthorized cars out of underground and surface parking areas.

Mr. Sanford's office said Tuesday he has ordered the Department of Public Safety to reassign police from those checkpoints to the Statehouse grounds and leave the guard arms up that restrict access.

In a letter Friday to the Budget and Control Board -- the agency responsible for running the security system -- Mr. Sanford rails against the security project he once appeared to support by calling for hiring new officers.

Mr. Sanford said he has for months questioned "the need for this project once we gained a clear understanding of what it entailed and what a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars it would be."

It's the latest shot in a long-running feud between Mr. Sanford and the Legislature about increased security.

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, pushed for the security spending in response to years of reports on shortcomings from the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI, State Law Enforcement Division, Department of Public safety and other terrorism and security experts.

"I'm going to listen to those experts before I listen to Gov. Sanford on security. I don't think he's got the credentials or insight," Mr. McConnell said. "I'm disappointed in his cavalier attitude about the security system."

Mr. McConnell concedes Mr. Sanford has the authority to order Protective Services officers out of checkpoints at the parking entrances. "I don't' think he has the authority to order the gates open and to take over that security system. He would like to have that authority. It's a blessing to all of us he doesn't have that authority."

Mr. McConnell says the system has operated only since September and is being fine-tuned to protect the public visiting the Capitol, legislators and staff. Mr. Sanford has his own security detail, he says.

"He's safe, but how about the other employees?" Mr. McConnell asked.