Voter Guide Misses The Mark On Sanford
June 24, 2002
The Christian Coalition was birthed in 1989 by television broadcaster Pat Robertson (I received my Master’s Degree this year from his Virginia Beach-based graduate school, Regent University). The grassroots organization, originally a group of people who supported Robertson's run for President of the United States in 1988, is comprised of active people of faith who want to help get socially conservative candidates elected into office on every level of government.
The group was at the height of power in the early 1990’s, but their influence has waned substantially in recent years. In fact, Robertson stepped down as President of the Christian Coalition in December 2001. He was succeeded by the former director of the Christian Coalition in South Carolina, Roberta Combs. Ever since Combs left South Carolina to work in the national office of the Christian Coalition in the late 1990’s, the South Carolina branch of the group has been in a major tailspin.
The South Carolina Christian Coalition (SCCC), which has been visibly absent on the political scene over the past few years, has decided to make the 2002 Republican Party runoff election tomorrow where they will begin their comeback. An estimated 250,000 GOP runoff voter guides were distributed in hundreds of churches of all denominations across South Carolina yesterday. The SCCC claims that these voter guides do not specifically endorse any candidates, but rather they inform voters by showing what the candidates running for office believe on the various issues of importance to the Christian voter. Today, thousands of follow-up telephone calls will be made by the SCCC to South Carolina voters in an effort to “educate” them more about the candidates in the runoff.
The voter guides identify key issues in the races for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General. But, in the latter two Republican runoffs, both candidates in each race have identical stands on the issues in the voter guides (This begs the following question: Why did the SCCC take the time to print voter guides in these races if the candidates have the same stance on the issues? I will answer this later in this article.). In the Governor’s race, however, it is an entirely different story!
Before I go on, I need to explain something to you that might help you understand the angle I am coming from in this article. I feel I am qualified to speak about the SCCC and their voter guides because I completed a directed research project on the group last Fall as the final requirement for my Master of Arts Degree in Public Policy. My research focused on the ineffectiveness of the SCCC in attracting more “people of faith” to join their cause. I examined their voter guides as part of the research.
I discovered most of my information for my research paper by directly polling voters in South Carolina who identify themselves as “Christian.” I posted a summary of my conclusions on Commonvoice.com in February at the article “Christians Politically Active, Not Members of Christian Coalition”.
During the research, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the SCCC field director, Mrs. Janice McCord. She is an active participant in the Republican Party in South Carolina and is a keen observer of the political landscape of the Palmetto state. Of course, she is especially cognizant of the elected officials who support the causes of the SCCC. I can remember that she always spoke very highly of Lt. Governor Bob Peeler as a strong supporter of the SCCC in the past.
Therefore, I was not surprised when I saw the Christian Coalition Voter Guide for South Carolina’s GOP Governor’s race (at the URL http://cc.org/state/sc/sc2002-1.html ) putting Mr. Peeler in a good light because his “record” falls in line with what the SCCC believes on the issues mentioned in the voter guide. Interestingly, since Mr. Peeler does not have a viable voting record to garner his positions on these issues from (he cast only 8 tiebreaking votes in his 8-year tenure as Lt. Governor of South Carolina), it is assumed that his answers are how he would have voted or will vote as Governor. In other words, we are supposed to take him at his word that this is where he stands on those particular issues.
Unfortunately, though, I was surprised (but at the same time I really wasn’t) that former 1st District Congressman Mark Sanford’s record in the voter guides was distorted on many issues and summarized with a couple of useless words and phrases -- “no response” and “unclear.” The voter guides might as well have said “not Christian” or “un-Christian” because that is exactly how someone reading this guide will end up interpreting it when they compare it side-by-side with Peeler’s perfect “record” (which is exactly what the SCCC wants you to believe)!
Let’s step back and take an objective look at the specific issues where Mr. Sanford is alleged to be “unclear” on or not in line with what the SCCC believes is the correct position:
- “Affirmative action” in public college admissions standards - UNCLEAR
Although Mark Sanford does not like the idea of using race as an admissions criteria, he also believes that the Federal government shouldn't be taking away the rights of states like South Carolina to make educational decisions. Mr. Sanford believes that educational choice and flexibility are extremely important and that such is only available through control at the state level, not the federal level. Therefore, his position is that this is a 10th Amendment issue and he OPPOSES affirmative action.
- Abolishing the vehicle property tax (or “car tax”) - OPPOSES
Mark Sanford has stressed the dire need for something to be done about property taxes. However, he believes that property taxes are an issue for local governments and municipalities to handle, not the state government. His plan to eliminate the income tax provides long term tax relief from the state government level. It is disingenuous to say that Mark Sanford opposes car tax relief! He SUPPORTS each individual locality to take measures to alleviate the problem wit property taxes!
- Prohibiting abortion except where life of mother is endangered - NO RESPONSE
Mr. Sanford is pro-life and as Governor would do everything in his power to discourage abortion in South Carolina.
In Congress, Mr. Sanford consistently supported:
1. The Partial-Birth Abortion Act.
2. The Child Custody Protection Act (prohibiting adults from taking minors across state lines for the purpose of getting an abortion).
3. The Mexico City Policy (says that no organization that provides abortion services can be eligible for US foreign aid).
4. The Innocent Child Protection Act (prohibiting states from imposing the death penalty on a female convict while she is pregnant).
And in Congress, Mr. Sanford consistently opposed:
1. Taxpayer Funded Abortion (at least 15 times).
2. Legalization of RU-486.
Mr. Sanford has a lifetime rating of 92% from the National Right to Life Committee and received the Christian Coalition's "Friend of the Family" award. Mr. Sanford has a "Zero" percent rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). In addition, for his consistent pro-life stances, Mr. Sanford recently received the endorsement of the Columbia Christian's for Life.
Mr. Sanford's record on life issues is virtually identical to Sen. Strom Thurmond and Rep. Lindsey Graham. And Congressman Tom Coburn has gone on record stating: "Mark Sanford is a committed conservative leader and tireless advocate for the unborn. Sadly, there are those choosing to ignore or misrepresent Mark's record on this issue for what are clearly selfish political purposes. Rather than looking at Mark's votes, they are instead trying to attack him by twisting his words on survey answers given over right years ago. Unlike the typical politician, Mark has never been comfortable with simplistic questionnaires. He knows that you can't resolve the great issues of our time with an easy 'yes' or 'no' checkmark on a survey."
Additional Sanford Votes Against Abortion:
H.R. 1530-Department of Defense Authorization-DeLauro Amendment (Roll Call #382)-Sanford voted NAY. The amendment sought to strip out a provision prohibiting abortions to be performed overseas.
H.R. 1561-State Department Authorization--Smith Amendment (Roll Call #350)-Sanford voted AYE. The amendment prohibits any funds to any organization that directly or indirectly performs abortions in a foreign country.
H.R. 1561-Morella Amendment (Roll Call #349)-Sanford voted NAY. Morella offered an amendment to weaken the prohibition language and allow taxpayer funding of abortions in foreign countries.
H.R. 1833-Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1995 (Roll Call #756)-Sanford voted AYE. He also supported the Conference Report (Roll Call #94) and voted to override President Clinton's veto (Roll Call #422).
H.R. 1868-Foreign Operations Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1996-Smith Amendment (Roll Call #433)-Sanford voted AYE. The amendment would prohibit funds from being used for groups who perform directly or indirectly abortions in foreign countries. Meyers Amendment (Roll Call #432) sought to weaken the Smith Amendment. Sanford voted NAY.
H.R. 2076-Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations for Fiscal Year
1996-Norton Amendment (Roll Call #574)-Sanford voted NAY. The amendment was offered to strip out a provision in the bill prohibiting funds from being used to perform abortions in prison.
H.R. 2126-Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1996-Dornan Amendment (Roll Call #642)-Sanford voted AYE. The amendment sought to prohibit any funds from being used to perform abortions in Department of Defense facilities outside the United States.
H.R. 2126-Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1996-DeLauro Amendment (Roll Call #641)-Sanford voted NAY. The amendment sought to weaken the Dornan amendment.
H.R. 2127-Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1996-Kolbe Amendment (Roll Call #619)-Sanford voted NAY. The amendment sought to strip a prohibition of allowing States to fund abortions through Medicaid.
H.R. 3230-Department of Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 1997-DeLauro Amendment (Roll Call #167)-Sanford voted NAY. The amendment sought to strip out language prohibiting abortions in military hospitals overseas.
H.R. 3845 - District of Columbia Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1997 - Eleanor Holmes Norton Amendment (Roll Call #322) - Sanford voted NAY. Amendment sought to allow DC to use public funds for abortions.
H.R. 581 - Sanford voted AYE. To provide that the President may make funds appropriated for population planning and other population assistance available on March 1, 1997, subject to restricting population assistance funding from going to foreign organizations that perform or actively promote abortions. (In short, to impose the pro-life "Mexico City Policy" on the Administration).
H.R. 1119 - Department of Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998 - Harman Amendment (Roll Call #217) - Sanford voted NAY. The amendment sought to strip out language prohibiting abortions in military hospitals overseas.
H.R. 1122 - Partial Birth Abortion Act (Roll Call #65) - Sanford voted AYE. Bill outlawed partial birth abortion.
H.R. 1757 - State Department Authorization Act - Smith Amendment (Roll Call #168) - Sanford voted AYE. An amendment to restrict assistance to foreign organizations that perform or actively promote abortions and prohibiting the use of any funds authorized in the bill to be made available for the United Nations Population Fund unless the President certifies that UNFPA has terminated all such activities in the People's Republic of China.
H.R. 2264 - Department of Labor/Health and Human Services Appropriations Act - Hyde Amendment (Roll Call #388) - Sanford voted AYE. Amendment prohibits the use of Federal funds to pay for health benefits coverage that includes the coverage of abortion, except in the case of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is threatened as a result of the pregnancy.
H.R. 3682 - Child Custody Protection Act (Roll Call #280) - Sanford voted AYE. Prohibiting adults from taking minors across state lines for the purposes of getting an abortion.
H.R. 4104 - Treasury Postal Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1999 - DeLauro Amendment (Roll Call #288) - Sanford voted NAY. Sought to strip language preventing Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan from the bill. (i.e. Amendment supported taxpayer-funded abortion).
H.R. 4276 - Commerce, State, Justice Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1999. DeGette Amendment (Roll Call #387) - Sanford voted NAY. Amendment is to strike language that would prohibit taxpayer-funded abortions for women in Federal prisons. (i.e. Amendment supported taxpayer-funded abortion).
H.R. 4380 - District of Columbia Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1999 - Eleanor Holmes Norton Amendment (Roll Call #408) - Sanford voted NAY. Amendment sought to allow DC to use public funds for abortions.
H.R. 1218 - Child Custody Protection Act (Roll Call #261) - Sanford voted AYE. This amendment prohibits adults from taking minors across state lines for the purposes of getting an abortion.
H.R. 1401 - Department of Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 2000 - Meek Amendment (Roll Call #184)-Sanford voted NAY. The amendment sought to strip out language prohibiting abortions in military hospitals overseas.
H.R. 2415 - State Department Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 -Smith Amendment (Roll Call #433)- passed by voice vote. The amendment would prohibit funds from being used for groups who perform directly or indirectly abortions in foreign countries. Campbell Amendment (Roll Call #312) sought to weaken the Smith Amendment. Sanford voted NAY to the Campbell Amendment.
H.R. 2490 - Treasury Postal Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1999 - DeLauro Amendment (Roll Call #301) - Sanford voted NAY. Sought to strip language preventing Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan from the bill. (i.e. Amendment supported taxpayer-funded abortion).
H.R. 2606 - Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2000 - Smith Amendment (Roll Call #349) - Sanford voted AYE. Amendment prohibits assistance to foreign organizations that perform or actively promote abortion through lobbying activities to alter laws or policies concerning the circumstances under which abortion is permitted, regulated, or prohibited. Greenwood Amendment (Roll Call #350) sought to weaken Smith Amendment. Sanford voted NAY.
H.R. 2670 - Commerce, State, Justice Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2000. De Gette Amendment (Roll Call #373) - Sanford voted NAY. Amendment sought to strike language that would prohibit taxpayer-funded abortions for women in Federal prisons. (i.e. Amendment supported taxpayer-funded abortion for female inmates).
H.R. 3660 - Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2000 (Roll Call #104) - Sanford COSPONSORED and voted AYE.
H.R. 4292 - Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2000 (Roll Call # 495) - Sanford Voted AYE.
H.R. 4690 - Commerce, State, Justice Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001. De Gette Amendment (Roll Call #318) - Sanford voted NAY. Amendment sought to strike language that would prohibit taxpayer-funded abortions for women in Federal prisons. (i.e. Amendment supported taxpayer-funded abortion for female inmates).
H.R. 4871 - Treasury Postal Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1999 - DeLauro Amendment (Roll Call # 422) - Sanford voted NAY. Sought to strip language preventing Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan from the bill. (i.e. Amendment supported taxpayer-funded abortion).
H.R. 4888 - Innocent Child Protection Act (Roll Call #431) - Sanford voted AYE. Bill made it illegal for any state to carry out a death sentence upon a woman who is pregnant.
It is clear from his consistent pro-life voting record that Mark Sanford SUPPORTS prohibiting abortion except when the life of the mother is in danger.
- Ban on fetal tissue research on aborted babies - UNCLEAR
Again, look at how he has voted on issues concerning the right to life (see previous answer). Mark Sanford overwhelmingly SUPPORTS the ban on fetal tissue reasearch on aborted babies.
- Legalizing physician assisted suicide - UNCLEAR
Mark Sanford is opposed to physician-assisted suicide and spoke on the House floor about his opposition to the procedure. However, the bill on this issue he voted on would have stripped a state (in that case, Oregon) to regulate procedures used by doctors and vested those decisions in the Federal government. Mr. Sanford does not believe that is the proper role of the Federal government. Mr. Sanford OPPOSES physician-assisted suicide and, more broadly, to the further intrusion of the Federal government in citizens' lives. Again, Mark Sanford staunchly defended the 10th Amendment on this issue, forbidding the Federal government from taking control where they have no right.
- Government funding or favoring of benefits for “domestic partners” - UNCLEAR
Mark Sanford OPPOSES the City of San Francisco's domestic partnership policies; in fact, he later voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which defined "marriage" as being the union of a man and a woman. However, as a strong believer in the conservative principle of Federalism, Mr. Sanford opposes the expansion of Federal power at the expense of state and local government. Once again, Mr. Sanford preferred to support the 10th Amendment on this issue. (Are you seeing a pattern developing here?)
- Tax exemptions for prescription drugs - OPPOSES
Mark Sanford said in the debate last night that he is in favor of improving the prescription drug program in South Carolina by making the generic the default rather than the expensive name brand. This will save literally thousands of dollars. Additionally, he supports a Silvercare card for seniors to have quick access to the drigs they need at an affordable price. There are ways to make prescription drugs more affordable. Mr. Sanford SUPPORTS looking into all of these to find the best solution.
- Government distribution of needles to drug addicts - UNCLEAR
This issue was unanimously voted on by every Republican and Democrat in the U.S. Senate, including Strom Thurmond. While there is not a specific vote by Mark Sanford on this issue, it is a safe bet that he SUPPORTS allowing the state to decide on this issue and OPPOSES the Federal government from intruding. There are valid arguments for and against this issue. Any politician who is running for office and quickly comes out on either side of this issue has not put enough thought into it!
- Campaign finance reform that would restrict free speech - UNCLEAR
The Christian Coalition and other political non-profit groups see this issue as a threat to their very existence. Lindsey Graham and Mark Sanford helped co-sponsor the Shays-Meehan campaign reform bill (this was the House version of the McCain-Feingold bill in the Senate) on May 7, 1999. Neother signed the “discharge petition” that would have pushed the legislation through rapidly. Both were cautious and concerned about the affect this would have on the free speech of these groups. They were OPPOSED to doing anything that would cause irreversible harm to the 1st Amendment!
What is most amusing about these issues that the Christian Coalition is questioning about Mark Sanford is the fact that they gave him a passing grade as a Congressman. Even more amazing is that they gave him a perfect score in 1995-96, meaning he voted on the side of the Christian Coalition on every single issue. They gave him the “Friend of the Family Award” for his achievements in Congress on behalf of the family.
Now I would like to answer the question I posed earlier about why there were voter guides made for the Lt. Governor and Attorney General races, although both candidates in each race had the exact same position on all the issues. I think it was all about trying to defeat Mark Sanford in the Governor’s race. By making voter guides on the other races, the Christian Coalition can make the claim that they did not single out the Governor’s race with their voter guides. This gives them their alibi (we weren’t showing bias because we produced voter guides for two other races, they will claim!).
By the way, I have never heard of the Christian Coalition getting involved in a Republican primary anyway. They usually reserve their resources to produce voter guides in the general election in November. Isn’t it a shame that the SCCC felt they needed to get involved in the GOP runoff? Where were they in the primary race for Governor two weeks ago? And why are they singling out Mark Sanford and no one else?
These questions and others linger in my mind as the June 25th Republican runoff election looms large. It will make you question how serious you will take these voter guides the next time around because the Christian Coalition voter guide misses the mark on Sanford.