Wife told Sanford to stop affair

SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C. --- South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford sat in her oceanfront living room Friday, recalling how her husband repeatedly asked permission to visit his lover in the months after she discovered his affair.

"I said absolutely not. It's one thing to forgive adultery; it's another thing to condone it," Mrs. Sanford told The Associated Press during a 20-minute interview at the coastal home where she sought refuge with their four sons. They were her first extended comments on the affair.

She said that when her husband, Gov. Mark Sanford, inexplicably disappeared last week, she hoped he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, as his staff told those who inquired about his absence. That he had dared to go to Argentina to see the other woman left her stunned.

"He was told in no uncertain terms not to see her," she said in a strong, steady voice. "I was hoping he was on the Appalachian Trail. But I was not worried about his safety. I was hoping he was doing some real soul searching somewhere and devastated to find out it was Argentina. It's tragic."

The Sanfords had separated about two weeks ago. She said her husband told the family that he wanted some time away to work on writing a book and clear his head. The first lady said, "I had every hope he was not going to see her."

"You would think that a father who didn't have contact with his children, if he wanted those children, he would toe the line a little bit," she said.

Mrs. Sanford, a Georgetown-educated, former Wall Street vice president, said she discovered her husband's affair early this year after coming across a copy of a letter to the mistress in one of his files in the official governor's mansion. He had asked her to find some financial information, she said, not an unusual request considering her heavy involvement in his career.

The first lady said she confronted her husband immediately, and he agreed to end the affair. She said she wasn't sure Friday whether he had done so.