Clemson, USC lead in travel spending

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COLUMBIA --- South Carolina university officers and researchers top the state's 2008 travel spending list, with the University of South Carolina's provost racking up more than $45,000 in expenses alone, according to an annual report by the state's comptroller.

Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom's report shows which agencies and workers spent more than $80 million on travel. Clemson University spent $12.4 million and the University of South Carolina $9.3 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

An analysis shows USC Provost Mark Becker leads the list of more than 2,400 state employees by spending $45,693, nearly all on out-of-state trips.

Mr. Becker was in a meeting and not immediately available for comment, a spokeswoman said.

Gov. Mark Sanford ranks in the top 50 based on the total amount he spent on trips paid by his office and those paid by the state Commerce Department. Mr. Sanford has traveled to China, Argentina and Brazil through the Commerce Department, which has travel reports showing taxpayers covering $21,488 for those trips.

Mr. Sanford also spent $1,976 in travel through his office.

The Commerce-paid trips benefit the state, Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said. For instance, in October, FITESA, a Brazilian fabrics maker, announced it would spend $120 million on a Laurens County facility and create 80 jobs.

Mr. Sanford took two staunch GOP allies with him to China, and Commerce picked up their tab. It cost taxpayers $9,303 to send Sen. Greg Ryberg, of Aiken, and $6,842 to send Rep. Nikki Haley, of Lexington. Mr. Ryberg is head of the Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, and Ms. Haley is a subcommittee chairwoman on that panel's House counterpart.


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