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At holidays, Rotarians trade Sanford for charity

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Gov. Mark Sanford wanted to make his apologies to the Pawleys Island Rotary Club today and ask its members for their help in restructuring state government.

That will have to wait. Sanford’s scheduled visit has been postponed to accommodate an annual club tradition that brings charities the club has helped throughout the year to the last meeting before Christmas.

Officials with those organizations will talk to club members about what the donated funds enable them to do.

“They’re all coming tomorrow and we realized it wouldn’t be courteous to have him speak on limited time,” said Charles Nunn, a Rotary member and chaplain at Lakes at Litchfield.

Plans are to reschedule the governor’s visit for January.

Rotary president Bucky Snider said it was a scheduling error that led to Sanford’s invitation to speak this week. Officials hadn’t realized the fourth Thursday of the month would fall on Christmas Eve and today’s meeting would be the last before Christmas.

This would have been Sanford’s third visit to a Georgetown County Rotary Club in less than two months. He spoke to the Murrells Inlet club on Nov. 3 and a Georgetown club on Dec. 1, while a state House subcommittee was in Columbia discussing whether he should be recommended for impeachment.

He started both speeches with an apology for his conduct, alluding to his five-day disappearance to Argentina in June and ensuing admission of an extramarital affair. It’s how he’s started dozens of Rotary speeches around the state in the months since, leading the engagements to be dubbed his apology tour.

In the speeches, he also talks about his goals for the remaining year of his final term, which include government restructuring and job creation.

A number of members at the Pawleys Island club heard Sanford at previous Rotary meetings, and though the message delivered to each club is similar, they were looking forward to hearing the governor again.

Marshall Bryant, a longtime Republican, is one of them. He was a guest at the Georgetown meeting.

“I did appreciate hearing with my own ears, with him standing right in front of me, his initial opening comments,” Bryant said. “I’d say he comes with a contrite heart. I appreciate that.”

Bryant said he’s heard Sanford speak many times over the years on a number of topics, and it’s always a pleasure.

Bob Pelletier, director of St. Christopher’s Children, one of the four nonprofits the Pawleys Island Rotary Club contributed to this year, was also looking forward to hearing the governor’s speech, but he was more interested in what Sanford had to say about the state than about his misconduct.

“Hopefully it’s not just in defense of his actions,” Pelletier said. “The emphasis was supposed to be on the upcoming legislative session and his outlook on job creation.”

About 40 people usually attend the Pawleys Island meetings. Snider said he was planning on 130 for Sanford’s visit, the same number that attended when John McCain addressed the club in 2008.

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