A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

First Salvo of 2012?

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee released an ad attacking Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina for not accepting $700 million in stimulus funds. Sanford is considered a potential Republican candidate for president in 2012.

The ad is correct to say that Sanford is "turning down millions in recovery act funds." Sanford has said that he would rather use the money available at his discretion through ARRA to pay down the state’s debt, and he requested a special waiver from the White House to do so. He said if the request were denied, he would not accept the $700 million of a total $2.8 billion that would go to South Carolina. And his request was denied today.

The ad neglects to mention, though, that state legislatures can still apply for all available stimulus funds despite a governor’s stance. And in fact, both Democratic and Republican legislators in South Carolina have promised to do just that.

The ad also says that "leading Democrats and Republicans oppose Sanford’s move" while showing pictures of Democratic House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina and State House Speaker Bobby Harrell, a Republican. But Harrell has asked for his picture to be removed from the ad. In a statement, he made clear that he only opposes part of Sanford’s actions. Harrell said he supported the governor’s preference to pay down state debt, but, in absence of that alternative, he was in favor of taking the federal money.