COLUMBIA The wife of embattled South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford called his affair with an Argentine woman "inexcusable" but said today she is willing to forgive him.
Jenny Sanford's e-mailed statement was her first public comment since her husband told The Associated Press earlier this week that his mistress is his soul mate but he is trying to fall back in love with his wife.
"My forgiveness is essential for us both to move on with our lives, with peace, in whatever direction that may take us," Jenny Sanford said in the statement. "Mark has stated that his intent and determination is to save our marriage, and to make amends to the people of South Carolina. I hope he can make good on those intentions, and for the sake of our boys."
She said it is up to South Carolina voters and elected officials to decide whether they can "give Mark another chance."
Sanford returned last week from a secret trip to Argentina to see his mistress, Maria Belen Chapur. His staff had told the public he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and he later apologized for misleading them.
Jenny Sanford told The Associated Press then that she learned of the affair in January when she discovered a letter Sanford had written to Chapur. She said he had repeatedly asked permission to go to Argentina to see Chapur, but she denied it.
Spokesman Joel Sawyer said Thursday that Mark Sanford plans to spend the holiday weekend with his wife and sons in Florida, where his in-laws live.
"He remains committed and determined to repair the damage he has done in his marriage and to building back the trust of the people of South Carolina," Sawyer said.
Sawyer would not say where the family will stay. He asked the media to respect their privacy and declined to comment on how the governor would travel Friday.
Meanwhile, state police announced that they had found he used no taxpayer money to see Chapur during two visits to Argentina and three meetings in New York.
The governor also released his travel records to the media. He has already given the state treasurer two personal checks totaling $3,300 to cover costs for the part of a 2008 economic development trip where he said his relationship with Chapur turned physical. The two first met at an open air dance spot in Uruguay in 2001.
State Law Enforcement Division Chief Reggie Lloyd said agents were first checking into the 2008 economic development trip and four others: two trysts in New York, one in Manhattan and one in the Hamptons; a meeting in New York City that was attended by a spiritual adviser and meant to be Sanford's last with Chapur; and the secret trip to Argentina last month.
After Sanford told the AP about meeting Chapur in 2004 at a New York bistro, Lloyd said agents also asked for information about that.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we immediately called over to the governor's office," Lloyd said. He said the governor was fully cooperative.
Also today, a publisher announced it has terminated Sanford's deal to write a book on fiscal conservatism. Spokesman Adrian Zackheim said the decision to drop the book, titled "Within Our Means," was a mutual one between the governor and the publisher, Sentinel, a dedicated conservative imprint within Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Sawyer declined to comment on the book deal.