These are not the droids you are looking for. A ticket, you will not give. Or, something like that.
In a recent highway encounter with one of South Carolina’s finest, a state agent who was driving Governor Mark Sanford skidded away without penalty after being pulled over for cruising some 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.
After media picked up on the trooper’s dashboard camera video, state officials said that Sanford’s driver will be retroactively ticketed. The preferential treatment shown by the officer, who merely had to shake the governor’s hand before letting the pair go, is nonetheless brazen.
In the video, police Lance Cpl. R. S. Salter pulls over Sanford’s vehicle on Interstate 385. The vehicle’s driver gets out and approaches the officer, who asks, “You got a good reason for running 85?”
The man then claims he is driving the governor, to which the officer replies, “Not really a good reason to be speeding.”
“Tell him that,” the driver says.
Approaching the right-side of the unmarked sedan, the officer positively identifies the passenger as Governor Sanford. He reaches in, shakes Sanford’s hand and returns to his squad car without incident.
Sanford’s entire brush with the law lasted just shy of two minutes, from stop to departure.
“Obi Wan knew how to get the fuzz off his back,” quipped South Carolina’s Charleston City Paper. “He waved his hand in the air and recited these words, ‘These are not the droids you’re looking for. Move along.’ And just like that, the troopers back the fugh up and let the jedi pass.
“Well, apparently, Gov. Mark Sanford has learned a jedi mind trick or two from old Ben Kenobi.” [Link added.]
The State reported: “But a day later, state Department of Public Safety Director Mark Keel had reviewed the video and the trooper was writing a ticket for the State Law Enforcement Division agent driving Sanford. And the SLED agent’s boss wasn’t happy.”
“Everyone instinctively gets that the speeding incident is not a big deal, especially on that stretch of road, but it’s the exposure to another charge of hypocrisy that hurts,” said former Sanford PR chief Will Folks, quoted by The Christian-Science Monitor.
The brief brush with law enforcement and resulting fallout in the press could not come at a worse time for Sanford, who has been under fire since vanishing for some five days on a secret rendezvous with his Argentinian mistress. Recently, his air travel has come under scrutiny too, and state legislators are awaiting the results of an internal probe to determine whether the governor violated ethics laws and should be impeached.
“In 2006, the governor’s office blasted S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer after he was stopped twice for speeding and let go without a ticket,” noted Fits News, a local Web portal. “Through a spokesman, Sanford at the time said that he and his Cabinet officials ‘believe very strongly that preferential treatment should never be a factor when enforcing the law.'”
This video is from FoxCarolina.com, broadcast Oct. 8, 2009.