COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Thursday he still wants to reconcile with the first lady even though Jenny Sanford has made clear she won't be standing by his side in the wake of his affair.
Sanford spoke with reporters a day after a legislative panel rejected an impeachment resolution and instead decided to recommend a formal rebuke for his trysts with an Argentine mistress and his misuse of state planes. The panel said his actions had brought the state "ridicule, dishonor, disgrace and shame."
Just hours after the panel's decision, ABC aired a previously recorded interview with Jenny Sanford. The first lady said her husband's actions hurt her, but have not robbed her of her self-esteem. Sanford said he didn't watch the interview but understands why his wife is speaking out.
"The obvious is the obvious, which is I hurt her greatly as I did many other people across the state, but I hurt her most greatly and so I don't begrudge her in any way for speaking out as she has," Sanford said.
Jenny Sanford, a former Wall Street investment firm vice president who helped direct her husband's political campaigns, surprised many in June when she said she didn't know where her husband was over Father's Day weekend. The governor's spokesman said he had gone hiking along the Appalachian Trail, but the first lady's remark heightened the mystery over Sanford's whereabouts.
He emerged after a five-day absence to tearfully confess he'd been in Argentina and had been having a yearlong affair with Maria Belen Chapur, a woman he described as his soul mate.
Since then, Jenny Sanford has moved out of the Governor's Mansion with the couple's four sons and lives at the family's beach house on Sullivans Island near Charleston.
Sanford said Thursday he still wants to reconcile.
"Yeah. I mean, you may have missed it, but I mean I was down there last night and dropped by and saw the kids," Sanford said.
Sanford wouldn't talk about whether he has cut off contact with Chapur. "I'm not going back to June. We've had all those conversations."
In his political life, Sanford has just over a year remaining in his second term.
His affair prompted investigations into travel and spending practices that resulted in 37 counts brought by the State Ethics Commission and he could face $74,000 in fines. He faces a hearing on next month.
Meanwhile, the state attorney general is reviewing the allegations to see if they merit criminal prosecution.
Sanford said the panel's vote Wednesday was an important one.
"We're very much back to the business at hand which I think is where the people of South Carolina have wanted us to get for quite some time," he said.
Even though lawmakers are considering a formal reprimand, Sanford said he won't tread lightly around them.
"It's not in my nature unfortunately to walk on egg shells," Sanford said. "I failed at a rather epic level. I apologized. There were consequences that we've dealt with for the last five, six months. One of those consequences seemingly seems to be coming to a close."