Wandering SC governor admits straying in Argentina

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After going AWOL for seven days, Gov. Mark Sanford admitted Wednesday that he had secretly flown to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he was having an affair. Wiping away tears, he apologized to his family and gave up a national Republican Party post, but was silent on whether he would resign.

Tearfully, Gov. Mark Sanford admitted having an affair with a woman in Argentina and said he would quit as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. A spokesman says he has no plans to resign.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Tearfully, Gov. Mark Sanford admitted having an affair with a woman in Argentina and said he would quit as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. A spokesman says he has no plans to resign.

"I've been unfaithful to my wife," he said in a news conference in which the 49-year-old governor ruminated on God's law, moral absolutes and following one's heart. He said he spent the last five days "crying in Argentina."

Sanford, who in recent months had been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2012, said he would resign as head of the Republican Governors Association.

By leaving the country without formally transferring power, critics said he neglected his gubernatorial authority and put the state at risk. It wasn't clear how his staff could reach him in an emergency.

At least one state lawmaker called for his resignation. As a congressman, Sanford voted in favor of three of four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, citing the need for "moral legitimacy."

Sanford described the woman who lives in Argentina as a "dear, dear friend" whom he has known for about eight years and been romantically involved with for about a year. He said he has seen her three times since the affair began, and his wife found out about it five months ago.

A newspaper published steamy e-mails between Sanford and the woman. He did not identify her, nor did he definitely say.

"What I did was wrong. Period," he said. His family did not attend the news conference, and his wife Jenny Sanford said she asked the governor to leave and stop speaking to her two weeks ago. The governor said he wants to reconcile, and his wife's statement said her husband has earned a chance to resurrect their marriage.

"This trial separation was agreed to with the goal of ultimately strengthening our marriage," she said.

Sanford did not answer directly whether the relationship with the Argentinian woman was over.

He did say, "I had, to the people of South Carolina, based on my boys, based on my wife, based on where I was in life, based on where she was in life, a place I couldn't go and she couldn't go."

Sanford denied instructing his staff to cover up his affair, but acknowledged that he told them he thought he would be hiking on the Appalachian Trail and never corrected that impression after leaving for South America.

"I let them down by creating a fiction with regard to where I was going," Sanford said. "I said that was the original possibility. Again, this is my fault in ... shrouding this larger trip."

Questions about Sanford's whereabouts arose early this week. For two days after reporters started asking questions, his office had said he had gone hiking on the trail.

Cornered at the Atlanta airport by a reporter from The State newspaper, Sanford revealed Wednesday morning that he had gone to Argentina for a seven-day trip.

When news first broke about his mysterious disappearance, Jenny Sanford told The Associated Press she did not know where her husband and father of their four sons had gone for the Father's Day weekend. She said he needed time away to write.

Sanford emerged Wednesday afternoon at a news conference, where he mused openly of his love of hiking and how he used to guide trips along the Appalachian Trail, and eventually tearfully apologized to his wife, his staff and his friends - but without yet saying what he was apologizing for.

"I hurt a lot of different folks," he said, occasionally choking up throughout the news conference that lasted about 20 minutes.

With those watching still wondering what he was admitting, Sanford said: "The odyssey that we're all on in life is with regard to heart."

Excerpts of e-mail exchanges between the governor and his mistress were published online Wednesday by The State. The governor's office wouldn't discuss the e-mails with The Associated Press, but told The State it wouldn't dispute the authenticity of the messages.

One from the governor read: "I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night's light - but hey, that would be going into sexual details."

In another: "In the meantime please sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul."

Several residents said they were disappointed in Sanford.

"He shouldn't have lied to us. He should have been up straight," said college student Gerald Walker, 19, in downtown Columbia. "It's very embarrassing for someone in a leadership role that we are supposed to respect, especially me being a young guy."

Glenn Mitchell, of Columbia, said he felt Sanford's absence showed a lack of concern for the state.

"He left the state unattended," said Mitchell, 54, out of work recuperating from surgery. "He just hasn't been there for us."

But Warren "Cubby" Culbertson, a longtime friend who said he has been counseling Sanford, said the governor was accepting responsibility for his actions.

"Any man can fall. But it takes a real man to get up and honestly, from his heart, confess that he was wrong," Culbertson said. "And he's going to try to change."

Others were less forgiving. State Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, called for Sanford's resignation.

"There is nothing left to save," Rutherford said. "There is no reason for him to remain as governor."

Sanford, a former three-term congressman, was elected governor in 2002. He has more than a year remaining in his second term and is barred by state law from running again.

Sanford was elected chairman of the Republican Governors Association this year after he helped raise a record $10.6 million at the group's 2008 annual dinner to help elect GOP governors. The association said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour would assume the duties as chairman.

The libertarian-leaning Republican was seldom a firebrand. But he was known for salting tales of family life into policy discussions.

He criticized the $787 billion federal stimulus law and efforts by legislators to claim a share of it by saying in tough times a family would sit around the table and find ways to cut spending.

His vocal battle against the Obama administration over the stimulus money won praise from conservative pundits, but ultimately, a state court order required him to take the money.

Jenny Sanford, a millionaire whose family fortune comes from the Skil Corp. power tool company, has been central to Sanford's political career. She ran his congressional campaigns and his first race for governor. She was an almost daily fixture at senior staff meetings, and often could be seen driving a minivan away from the Statehouse in the mornings.

The two met when Sanford, who has an MBA, was trying his hand on Wall Street. She was working at a brokerage house when he entered a training program.

As governor, Sanford has had seemingly endless run-ins with the GOP-dominated Legislature, once bringing pigs to the House chamber to protest pork barrel spending. He also put a "spending clock" outside his office to show how quickly a proposed budget would spend state money.

Sanford's announcement came a day after another prominent Republican, Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, apologized to his GOP Senate colleagues after revealing last week that he had an affair with a campaign staffer and was resigning from the GOP leadership.

SUMMARY

AFFAIR APOLOGY: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford apologized to his wife and four children at a press conference where he admitted taking a secret trip to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he'd been having an affair. He said the woman was a good friend for eight years but the romantic relationship started about a year ago.

MYSTERY TRIP: Sanford's trip to Argentina came to light after reporters started asking questions about his whereabouts earlier this week. His staff had said he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. He said Wednesday that's what he told them.

TROUBLE FOR THE GOP?: Sanford said he'll resign as head of the Republican Governors Association, and his admission came a day after prominent Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada apologized for an affair with a campaign staffer. GOP governors were once thought to be President Obama's most credible adversaries, but that's not turning out to be the case.

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laprince
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laprince 06/25/09 - 01:19 am
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Somebody needs to do some

Somebody needs to do some research and find out why Argentine women are after our men. I met a lady from Argentina several years ago and she told me their men are into beastality real strong and the men there are not paying them any attention, so they are coming to America to find men. True story! Doesn't excuse Sanford though! Sanford wanted to get a last fling with the woman before he broke up with her. He reminds me of a black man.

prolifer
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prolifer 06/25/09 - 04:43 am
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laprince, 1. Argentine women

laprince, 1. Argentine women and any other woman can go after any man they wish. 2. The comment about black men shows you are an IDIOT. This whole thing is about the govenor of SC. You can take your meds now and go back to sleep.

prolifer
0
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prolifer 06/25/09 - 04:46 am
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laprince, maybe I judged you

laprince, maybe I judged you too soon. You said that it reminds you of A black man. Is this A black man who left you after one last fling? Yes or no, you're still an idiot for the post.

GACopperhead
6
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GACopperhead 06/25/09 - 04:49 am
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Last comment out of line,

Last comment out of line, Laprince. My comment is to those who say a politician's private life doesn't affect his governmental duties. A man who would lie to and cheat on the person he should hold dearest, will have the same morals and ethics when dealing with his duties in the government. He doesn't even know his constituents. Why wouldn't he cheat and lie to them?
ANY politician, no matter what his rank, who philanders should be forced to resign, and be barred from ever holding office again. There should also be laws in place to forbid ever being a lobbyist, or ever being able to profit from any book, articles or speeches that entail his "troubles". What absolutely terrifies me is that the outcry against ANY of these politicians is so weak. That is just a signal to those who supposedly serve us that we are sheep, and that they can do anything they want with no fear of any consequences. This country no longer has any standards of decency, ethics or morals.

TORTURE
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TORTURE 06/25/09 - 04:56 am
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Gov. Mark Sanford need to be

Gov. Mark Sanford need to be remove from office for misconduct.
When he was a Congressman he voted for President Bill Clinton's impeachment.

get.the.beam.out
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get.the.beam.out 06/25/09 - 05:16 am
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This escalated when Angel

This escalated when Angel Cabrera won The Masters.

SCGAL53
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SCGAL53 06/25/09 - 05:52 am
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I agree that Sanford should

I agree that Sanford should be removed, but it's interesting that the Dems that cheat, keep their careers.

justthefacts
24891
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justthefacts 06/25/09 - 06:03 am
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Torture, Clinton was

Torture, Clinton was impeached for lying under oath, not for having an affair. And he wasn't removed from office.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 06/25/09 - 06:08 am
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0
A little late for the Repubs
Unpublished

A little late for the Repubs to be handing him off to the Libertarians - don't you wish, Chronicle? Nice try, but stupid.

trucksareforgirlz
0
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trucksareforgirlz 06/25/09 - 06:10 am
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What a loser, a liar, a

What a loser, a liar, a cheat, and a hypocrit. Sanford had to go all the way to Argentina to cry? He had to go all the way to Argentina to find a girlfriend? The demo-rats have been able to find their mistresses within the states. What a disappointment and "what a load." Who funded his little jaunts to Argentina? If Sanford wants to run around acting like a Heffner wanna-be, then he should have run on the democratic ticket. God bless his wife and sons, and may they be spared anymore heartbreak from this loser. Sanford should be removed from office for not only lying to his wife and children, but for lying to those of us who voted for him. He is DEFINITELY not a leader. How will South Carolina EVER improve when our elected "leader" just disappears on a whim and no one knows where he is?? Was he in Argentina with his honey when Myrtle Beach was burning? Does he think he's Caesar?

jack234
852
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jack234 06/25/09 - 06:10 am
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There's no joy in mudville,

There's no joy in mudville, mighty Sanford has stuck out. Sit on the bench with Newt. HELLO! HELLO!

shivas
2
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shivas 06/25/09 - 06:18 am
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The crying part was

The crying part was especially touching. I thought it was bizarre he was adamant in explaining how he met this person, and their special friendship. 5 days of crying in Argentina? This is a man who fooled many. Only in South Carolina.

justthefacts
24891
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justthefacts 06/25/09 - 06:19 am
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jack#s, as a self discribed

jack#s, as a self discribed "christian", I would think you would at least try to conceal your outright joyfulness over another man's misery. I guess I would be wrong. Your's was a very classy post.

andywarhol
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andywarhol 06/25/09 - 06:26 am
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I bet this Argentine woman

I bet this Argentine woman was smokin hot!

redapples
681
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redapples 06/25/09 - 06:33 am
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I feel bad for the guy, his

I feel bad for the guy, his wife and family. It's bad enough when you screw up, but to do it in front of the world with cameras rolling is something else! To publish the private emails is over the top and only serves to hurt his wife more! To leave the country the way he did, he must have had some sort of mental breakdown.

Serioun
3
Points
Serioun 06/25/09 - 06:49 am
0
0
Well, well, well we finally

Well, well, well we finally find the Augusta Chronicle Repub thugs speechless. Hippy-horrah! It is my wish you use this time wisely to reexamine the con-servative hypocrisy you spread. Nobody can live the life you present, we are all human and have flaws, most of them behind closed doors. Put down your beers and hockey sticks, get rid of your rhetoric and be for real. Either practice what you Preach (which is impossible) or accept the harsh realities of life. We are all a work in progress and absolute power does nothing but corrupt. Keep your moral dictate among yourselves and discuss them at the turkey shoots, the confederate womens meetings and the sons of dixieland events, but don't bring them to my dinner table, national networks, they don't belong there. They are your personal opinions and not a standard for us to live by, stay in your lane....I know how to drive!!

edieed321
0
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edieed321 06/25/09 - 06:50 am
0
0
What would it take to fire

What would it take to fire this governor? And how long will it take? He's a disgrace.

Dragoness
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Dragoness 06/25/09 - 07:58 am
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Gov. Sanford was wrong in

Gov. Sanford was wrong in what he did. He should not have betrayed his wife's trust or the trust of his state by going off with another woman when he should have been working. That said, as to saying he should resign his office - the "people" did not DEMAND the resignation of President Clinton when he fell off his pedestal, I don't see what we would require a lesser official (state versus national) to resign when we did not require it of the president. Just remember, this is his last term as govenor, he cannot be re-elected, so we only have to put up with this for a little while. Don't judge him any harsher then President Clinton was judged.

1trugent
0
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1trugent 06/25/09 - 08:21 am
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Dragoness, you said it all!

Dragoness, you said it all!

Ode
5
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Ode 06/25/09 - 08:35 am
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Libertarian leaning? I think

Libertarian leaning? I think not. He pandered on and on about family values and the such as a basis for his policy and beliefs in order to dupe the bible thumping conservative christians in SC. He is a tried and true Republican. That said he committed adultery and that is not a crime. Move on.

ajones
0
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ajones 06/25/09 - 08:38 am
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It is ashame that he was off

It is ashame that he was off having an affair on Father's Day weekend. He is not a respectable person. He should have been with his wife and sons.

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 06/25/09 - 08:40 am
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He should resign the facts

He should resign the facts are in he spent $21,000 of SC taxpayer money on international travel in 2008. This affair is nothing new it has now just caught the public eye. http://chronicle.augusta.com/2008/12/02/met_502364.shtml

Ode
5
Points
Ode 06/25/09 - 08:57 am
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0
It is not fact that he spent

It is not fact that he spent $21,000 inappropriately on international travel.

Brenda_G
1
Points
Brenda_G 06/25/09 - 09:18 am
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"To whom much is given, much

"To whom much is given, much is expected". When a person is elected, they are elected to public service, not king (or queen) of the hill. There seems to be some confusion when you see the hubris of many. If you swept the arena of public servants with a broad broom there probably wouldn't be enough holding public office who understand that, to turn out the lights at the end of the day. A large number would better serve by keeping their hands out of other's pockets and keeping them in their own, solving more than one of their problems.

double_standard
166
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double_standard 06/25/09 - 09:22 am
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Ode he drove a state suburban

Ode he drove a state suburban to Atlanta to catch an international flight. You repukes always cry about wasteful govt spending.

Ode
5
Points
Ode 06/25/09 - 09:29 am
0
0
Well I'm not sure who or what

Well I'm not sure who or what a repuke is but I just expect people to post facts and not opinions and lies that they want to believe to be facts. So please cite your source that supports the "fact" that the governor drove himself to Atlanta and parked a state Suburban in the parking garge there and made the state pay for his gas and parking.

0430
0
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0430 06/25/09 - 09:35 am
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0
Gov. Sanford must not like

Gov. Sanford must not like the hot women of South Carolina. He could have slip into to Augusta and found one or two hot conservative women. Maybe?

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 06/25/09 - 09:49 am
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The fact is wasteful

The fact is wasteful government spending which you repukes cry about everyday. Gas on average is 2.40/gal, Parking at the Atlanta airport is $12/day long term. You really think he used his own personal money. Get real no different than Spitzer. Resignation should be in process.

Ode
5
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Ode 06/25/09 - 09:52 am
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Please cite your source then.

Please cite your source then.

R2
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R2 06/25/09 - 09:56 am
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laprince:1. No real man

laprince:1. No real man would be bawling in front of the camera(it was all for show) 2. Jenny is looking kind of drab and worn out - ( who could get it up for her anyway) The latino temptress took him to places he's never been before sort of a "Star Trek experience". If he continues his loveless marriage it probably won't last. How could it? Once you've tasted "hot" the bland won't satisfy you. Even for the money.

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