Web advocacy group ColorOfChange.org has its members hounding South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and his band of Southern-guv rebels over their refusal to use stimulus cash. (I've worked for ColorOfChange.org as a consultant.) More than 600 of the group's members bombarded Sanford's office with calls earlier this week, and 28,000 had signed a petition demanding Sanford and five other governors act like they have some sense.
Sanford, a likely 2012 candidate and chair of the Republican Governors Association, has been a leader in a Dixie governors' revolt over the stimulus package. During the debate over the bill's passage, Sanford's stance prompted S.C. Rep. Jim Clyburn to rage, "he may not need help for the plantation his family owns, but the people whose grandparents and great-grandparents worked those plantations need the help." A third of S.C. is black and the state has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, at 10.4 percent.
Clyburn pushed a clause in the stimulus bill that empowers state legislatures to claim the money if their governors don't do so by April 3. But a Congressional Research Service report has raised questions about whether that provision is constitutional.
Sanford, Sarah Palin and Rick Perry of Texas are the only three governors who have officially sought to reject portions of the stimulus money. Three others have said they'll do the same: Bob Riley of Alabama, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and, of course, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. ColorOfChange.org points out that black unemployment is at least double that of whites in each of these states.