Sanford Used State Funds to Visit Mistress in Argentina Last Summer
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said he visited his mistress in Argentina last summer on a trip that was paid for by taxpayers, and that he plans to reimburse the state.
The visit was a taxpayer-financed trade mission to South America. The admission heighten calls for his resignation.
“While the purpose of this trip was an entirely professional and appropriate business development trip,” Mr. Sanford said in an e-mail statement issued by his office to The New York Times, “I made a mistake while I was there in meeting with the woman who I was unfaithful to my wife with.”
Jim Rutenberg and Robbie Brown of the Times write:
Mr. Sanford called questions about the trip to Argentina “very legitimate” and said he would reimburse its costs. Documents provided by the South Carolina Department of Commerce suggested that they totaled at least $12,000.
Coming one day after Mr. Sanford confessed that he had spent his week’s absence from the state in Argentina with the woman with whom he had been having a year-old affair, Thursday’s admission was yet another blow to his reputation and led several fellow South Carolina Republican leaders to say he could no longer serve as governor.
“I think he’s gone, it’s over,” said one of them, Harvey S. Peeler Jr., majority leader of the State Senate. “Leaving aside his personal life, when you use taxpayer dollars, that’s what Republicans are all about — spending tax dollars wisely. This was not spending tax dollars wisely.”
Mr. Peeler said calls from his constituents were running two to one in favor of the governor’s resignation, though he said that was ultimately Mr. Sanford’s call to make.
Robert W. Harrell Jr., speaker of the Republican-controlled House, said the governor would now have to decide whether he could remain effective in office. Glenn McCall, one of the two Republican national committeemen from South Carolina, called on him to resign, as did two newspaper editorial boards in the state.
But his spokesman, Joel Sawyer, said Mr. Sanford had “no plans to resign,” adding that the governor had called a cabinet meeting for Friday. And The Associated Press reported that Mr. Sanford himself, visiting his family at their beach house on Sullivans Island, near Charleston, shook his head no when, leaving the house by car, he was asked if he planned to step down.
“His next focus is going to be on building back the trust of South Carolinians,” Mr. Sawyer said.
State Senator Thomas C. Davis, the governor’s friend and former chief of staff, said, “Mark has never been one to bow to pressure, and I haven’t heard any calls yet for impeachment.”