Governor Sanford Ordered to Take $700 Million in Stimulus Cash

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," June 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, if the czars don't scare you, maybe a state's highest court will. The South Carolina Supreme Court just ruling that Republican Governor Mark Sanford must take $700 million in stimulus cash, cash the governor has long said he doesn't want and believes the state doesn't need.

Governor Sanford joins me now by phone.

Governor, so the judge is saying, take it, or else. What are you going to do?

GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We have said we're not going to appeal the Supreme Court decisions. We think it is a mistaken decision. We think it's only horrendous for South Carolina taxpayers and a horrible decision in the long run in terms of national policy. But it is what it is.

And we — we fought with every tool available as a sitting governor. And the court has decided, and we're going to live by what they decided.

CAVUTO: All right, now, the court's argument for taking this money was, what, that this was not a decision you should make; this was money provided by the federal government for the folks in your state, and you were not arguing on their behalf?

Could explain their reasoning?

SANFORD: Well, it's a little bit more complicated than that.

There are some fairly — fairly serious strings attached that go with governance in South Carolina. We have a broken political system. Our constitution of 1895 was created by — quote — "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman. It was a racist constitution built around the fear that a black man would be elected governor of South Carolina in Reconstruction South Carolina.

And, so, a lot of the traditional functions of executive branch were diffused into the wind with that 1895 constitution. And, so, the court's decision was predicated on a flawed constitutional model that — that didn't entail balance of power.

What it says is, basically, the legislative body reigns supreme. If they decide that they want to spend the money, and, in this case, if they decide they want you to spend federal money that only the other — again, that the other 49 governors in this country have discretion over, that's their right.

And, so, we knew that, once it went into the state court system, our number was cooked. We tried to get into the federal court system, because we thought we might get a fair hearing there. We were not successful in doing so. And, so, we were not surprised at all by what the South Carolina Supreme Court decided.

Mind you, in South Carolina, the Supreme Court is appointed by the legislative body.

CAVUTO: All right, but, real quickly, some weird stuff going on.

I'm connecting different dots here, but you have a court that is forcing you to take money you don't want, companies that want to give back bailout money, and they cannot, and, just in the prior segment, you might have heard, whole agencies and fiefdoms set up through “czarships,” or whatever you want to call them, and we don't have any say.

I'm — I'm just saying, it is a — a disturbing trend on paper to look at, is it not?

SANFORD: It really is.

And that's why I think that there's something going on with those tea parties that occurred back in April, in that there is a genuine unrest in this country, when people are saying, I — I can't exactly put my arms around what is going on right now.

CAVUTO: All right.

SANFORD: It doesn't feel good. Something isn't right.

And the bottom line is, what is not right is that we are undoing 200 years of tradition tied to some principles that made this country great.

CAVUTO: All right.

SANFORD: And, if we keep going on the route that we're on, I think we will be met with disastrous consequences.

CAVUTO: Governor, thank you very much. We appreciate your views.

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