WASHINGTON - The Obama administration yesterday rejected South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's request to use $700 million of federal stimulus aid to pay down the state's debt.

In a one-page letter sent to Sanford, Peter R. Orszag, director of the Office of the Management and Budget, said the new stimulus law does not allow the executive branch to grant exceptions. The federal stimulus aid "must satisfy the statutory requirements" and must be spent on education, government services, and efforts to spur economic activity and job growth, the letter said.

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