Governor 'will not resign' after love affair in Argentina

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford admitted yesterday that his first thought as the scandal broke about his extramarital affair with an Argentinian woman was to leave office with 18 months to go in his last term. Close spiritual and political associates urged him to instead fight to restore the public's — and his family's — trust.

"Resigning would be the easiest thing to do," he said he thought.

He's sticking it out and now faces endless questions about the affair, whether he used public money to visit his lover and whether his 20-year marriage will continue. Add to it a barrage of criticism from South Carolina politicians who think the two-term Republican should step down.

"Part of walking humbly is you've got to listen to your critics out there," the 49-year-old Sanford said. "And all of us will have critics, and the higher you go, I suppose, the more critics you have."

Sanford, his wife, Jenny, and sons were in separate cars leaving their beach house on Sullivans Island, headed to his family's farm — where his 83-year-old mother lives — in Beaufort, an hour south.

He looked like a man of leisure: faded khaki shorts, T-shirt, bare feet. But behind the casual attire, Sanford appeared contrite and spoke of falling from grace and rebuilding his life.

"I am sorry," he said. "I apologize for letting everyone down."

The governor admitted last week to a yearlong affair with the woman he says he's known for about eight years. He and Jenny say they will try to reconcile. Reconciling with fellow lawmakers and constituents also is ahead of him. Some lawmakers want his resignation because he secretly visited his mistress during a state-funded 2008 trip, and because he was out of touch with his staff during his recent weeklong visit to the country to see the woman. His staff had told the public he was hiking along the Appalachian Trail before the real story of his mysterious absence came to light.

Sanford has agreed to reimburse the state for some of the more than $8,000 in taxpayer money spent on the Argentina leg of the economic development trip to South America last year. On Sunday, he repeatedly said he never used public money to see the woman.

Later Sunday, 41-year-old Argentinian Maria Belen Chapur said in a statement to news network C5n of Buenos Aires that she was having a relationship with Sanford.

She says e-mail exchanges with Sanford that were widely published by US media and elsewhere were obtained by someone who hacked her account. She says her 200-word statement will be her only comment on it.

When it comes to his critics — most notably Republican state Senator Jake Knotts — and their calls for him to step down, Sanford said he understands where they are coming from.

"I don't begrudge the Jakie Knottses of the world," Sanford said. "He's going to do what he's going to do. I gotta do my part."

The governor's efforts to stay in office appear, in the minds of some lawmakers, to hinge in part on his ability to salvage his marriage. While several critics wants a criminal probe and others want him to step down, reconciling with the first lady does have sway among legislators.

"That's almost become a proxy for how some are looking at this. They're looking at Jenny," said state Sen. Tom Davis, a Beaufort Republican and former Sanford chief of staff. "In large measure, it depends on how things work and how people see things are working out between the governor and first lady."

As far as his marriage, Sanford said he and his wife are working on it.

"If there wasn't healing going on, I wouldn't be here," he said, pointing to his beach house, where he had dinner with his family Saturday night and where he took a run at sunrise on the sand with one of his sons.

Sanford added that he has been overwhelmed by the support he's received.

"It's only in the hard times you get a sense of how blessed you really are," he said.

Regardless of what politicians in the Statehouse think, his Sullivans Island neighbors are supportive.

During Sunday's interview, several folks stopped to say hello as they strolled by on their morning walks. One man, driving a golf cart festooned with red-white-and-blue decorations, paused to invite Sanford and his family to a Fourth of July celebration.

"How are you?" the man asked Sanford.

"Considering the circumstances, all right," Sanford replied with a wan smile.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
fashion
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
Sport
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas