While the political fallout from Republican Gov. Mark Sanford’s mysterious Argentina trip isn’t yet entirely clear in South Carolina, one thing seems certain: At least for the near future, there’s going to be a lot more scrutiny of how and where politicians spend their time.
Already, 40 of Sanford’s gubernatorial colleagues have been subjected to a recent Associated Press survey of their schedules. The New York Times revisited the vagaries of the travel habits of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, and New Jersey Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, who is also the governor of Virginia, has had to explain in more detail the particulars of his own unique arrangement — and is currently fending off demands that he release his entire schedule.
Bloggers, too, have shown a heightened interest in the subject, raising questions about the whereabouts of first-term Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat who is running for the Senate. While both turned out to have perfectly reasonable explanations, the attention was unwelcome publicity in the context of their competitive campaigns.
What they’ve all learned is that, in the post-Sanford era, there’s a new threshold for how pols account for their time — and heightened scrutiny over their exact whereabouts.