Sanford: 'I've been unfaithful'

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 2:34 PM
Last updated Thursday, June 25, 2009 1:07 AM
  • Follow Latest News

Back | Next
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford wipes his tears as he admitted to having an affair during a news conference in Columbia, S.C Wednesday, June 24, 2009, and said he is resigning as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.  Associated Press
Associated Press
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford wipes his tears as he admitted to having an affair during a news conference in Columbia, S.C Wednesday, June 24, 2009, and said he is resigning as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - 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.

"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.

Comments (220) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
ABerger
1
Points
ABerger 06/24/09 - 02:37 pm
0
0
Man please!?!

Man please!?!

charliemanson
1
Points
charliemanson 06/24/09 - 02:38 pm
0
0
Another one bites the dust. I

Another one bites the dust. I figure he was taking some "mental health" days off for some reason or another.

Don KING
0
Points
Don KING 06/24/09 - 02:42 pm
0
0
Global warming is to blame I

Global warming is to blame I am sure!!!!

1trugent
0
Points
1trugent 06/24/09 - 02:43 pm
0
0
At least he was honoest with

At least he was honoest with his dishonesty which is more than Clinton can say.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 06/24/09 - 02:44 pm
0
0
LOL ok convertedsoutherner

LOL ok convertedsoutherner and patriciathomas defend this about his ways LOL.... All you fans of Mark will NEVER be president LOL. Oh and InChristLove so do you still believe his wife lied, she didn't know where he was, but according to him, she knew about the affair. John and Kate plus 8 on a smaller scale.

Edward1968
578
Points
Edward1968 06/24/09 - 02:48 pm
0
0
The "Breaking News" alerts

The "Breaking News" alerts about Sanford's activities remind me of soap operas in the 1960's. "Tune in tomorrow to see if Mark is the father of the Argentinean orphan left at the door of the monastery."

Niko Mahs
83
Points
Niko Mahs 06/24/09 - 02:49 pm
0
0
Could not manage the budget

Could not manage the budget but could manage to add his name to the list of GOP Screw Ups. Reality TV comes to the CSRA!!!!!

JFJ
0
Points
JFJ 06/24/09 - 02:50 pm
0
0
I knew there would be more to

I knew there would be more to the story. Who goes hiking in the mountains for four days without any contact from his family (especially on Father's day)? Guess there won't be a presidential candidate Sanford...

SCGAL53
0
Points
SCGAL53 06/24/09 - 02:54 pm
0
0
He needs to step down, NOW!

He needs to step down, NOW!

j2says
3
Points
j2says 06/24/09 - 02:55 pm
0
0
I feel sorry for his kids

I feel sorry for his kids this is embarrassing.

weatheringheights
0
Points
weatheringheights 06/24/09 - 02:56 pm
0
0
He was climbin' some

He was climbin' some Argentinian mountains alright ;).

Casey Jones
0
Points
Casey Jones 06/24/09 - 02:56 pm
0
0
I applaud him for not drgging

I applaud him for not drgging this out. 'Fess up and get it over with.

142
Points
Dan White 06/24/09 - 02:58 pm
0
0
Democrat or Republican - it

Democrat or Republican - it don't matter. They are all sinners.

weatheringheights
0
Points
weatheringheights 06/24/09 - 02:59 pm
0
0
His wife knew about this for

His wife knew about this for five months? Can you say
Cha-ching$$$$ Governor Sanford, I hear Buddy Dallas is accepting new clients.

1trugent
0
Points
1trugent 06/24/09 - 03:00 pm
0
0
There is absolutely no excuse

There is absolutely no excuse for having an affair on your spouse. If you want to play the field, then remain single. He should step down and hopefully he will. And if the Democrats would do the same.

hwduncan
57
Points
hwduncan 06/24/09 - 03:10 pm
0
0
"Oh what a tangled web we

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to decieve." Sir Walter Scott Marmion, Canto VI, Stanza 17.

HotFoot
17
Points
HotFoot 06/24/09 - 03:12 pm
0
0
There ya go. I knew it wasn't

There ya go. I knew it wasn't a yearning for nature.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 06/24/09 - 03:14 pm
0
0
A conservative can't act like

A conservative can't act like a Dem and expect to have support. Moral standards mean something to conservatives. I'm sorry to see another follow the path of Newt. A promising political career traded for something he considers more valuable. I think he realizes he's a member of the wrong party to act like this. I'd never want this man to lead my country. Of course, he can change parties and continue with his political career, but he'd just be a Dem. I think his financial situation allows him to fade gracefully from the scene.

witness
0
Points
witness 06/24/09 - 03:17 pm
0
0
PT if I am not mistaken, all

PT if I am not mistaken, all the people that are coming out with them be unfaithful latelyhave been repbulicans. What do you have to say about that. It just goes to show that republicans are humans and has the same dirty laundry as democrats.

Nammy3
0
Points
Nammy3 06/24/09 - 03:17 pm
0
0
Yeep, those bikini clad babes

Yeep, those bikini clad babes done did the man in! Not to say anything about ALL those mojitos he downed! LOL Good luck Gov.! Hope ya had fun!! I KNOW we DID!!! Thanks for coming!!!! LMAO (':

pai
5
Points
pai 06/24/09 - 03:18 pm
0
0
Thucydides............ you

Thucydides............ you hit it on the head! That's about all that needs to be said.

Boogaloo
1
Points
Boogaloo 06/24/09 - 03:18 pm
0
0
Shrewd political move on his

Shrewd political move on his part. All he has to do next is start going to church (on camera) and weep a lot. Then convince voters in 2012 that Argentina has secret underground oil reserves and that was the main reason he was down there and that the broad he picked up was his connection to the secret info. I can see the GOP droolers falling for this one.

harrisjr
0
Points
harrisjr 06/24/09 - 03:21 pm
0
0
Wanna get away - AGAIN. Ha,

Wanna get away - AGAIN. Ha, Ha Ha. LOL

1941
4
Points
1941 06/24/09 - 03:24 pm
0
0
HE HE, ha HA he ha he ha he

HE HE, ha HA he ha he ha he ha he ha he ha he ha !!!!

Rose
17
Points
Rose 06/24/09 - 03:24 pm
0
0
Like I said a few days ago-

Like I said a few days ago- so much for his family values.

champagne
0
Points
champagne 06/24/09 - 03:25 pm
0
0
Hey Witness, what about John

Hey Witness, what about John Edwards!!!! Anyway, as much as I am a conservative, I think he needs to resign.

MtnMan
1
Points
MtnMan 06/24/09 - 03:25 pm
0
0
Patricia....don't your mean

Patricia....don't your mean Democrats acting like Repubclicans when they get caught with their hand in the coookie jar"? com n....look at the facts..far more Republicans have been caught up in scandle than any Democrat....Family Values didn't you folks say? You Republicans are your own worst enemy....

Rose
17
Points
Rose 06/24/09 - 03:26 pm
0
0
John Edwards was wrong also.

John Edwards was wrong also.

jgdarling
3
Points
jgdarling 06/24/09 - 03:28 pm
0
0
Gotta love these "family

Gotta love these "family values" hypocrites...great for a laugh.

MtnMan
1
Points
MtnMan 06/24/09 - 03:30 pm
0
0
.....more heads should roll

.....more heads should roll than that of the Govenor....every last one of the people who were a part of this lie and cover up should be kicked out of Columbia...........
Our President is having a good laugh at all you folks that say terrible things about him.....pay back is hell!

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs