SC Gov Gambles To 'Lay It All Out' About Affair

After days of assuring the public he was firmly in control after admitting a scandalous affair, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford detailed other encounters with his Argentine "soul mate," dalliances with women before her, and his struggle to salvage his 20-year marriage.

Sanford, who last week used a televised news conference to throw himself on the mercy of the public, state leaders and his wife, chronicled his affair and tortured emotions in interviews with The Associated Press Monday and Tuesday. This time, he said, he wanted to "lay it all out."

But as more details of his private life spill out, what Sanford has done in the name of love is too much even for some of his friends in state government.

"He's lost the moral authority to lead our state, so he needs to step down for the good of our state," said state Sen. Larry Grooms, who said he called the governor and asked him to resign.

Others in Sanford's party predict his departure from public life is just a matter of time.

"There's just no way he'll be able to continue as governor," said Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, a Gaffney Republican who said he's concerned about inconsistencies in Sanford's accounts. "I'm really concerned about his mental well being."

In all, 10 of 27 state GOP senators as of Tuesday have called for him to step down.

Sanford, the once-promising presidential prospect, agreed to first sit down with the AP hours after attending a state budget meeting Monday and giving television interviews about the need to stay in office. Over the course of two days, he said he was fit to lead and ready to fix a broken marriage.

"I don't want to blow up my time in politics," he told the AP. "I don't want to blow up future earning power, I don't want to blow up the kid's lives. I don't want to blow up 20 years that we've invested. But if I'm completely honest, there are still feelings in the way. If we keep pushing it this way, we get those to die off, but they're still there and they're still real."

He has trouble, he said, shutting down the love he feels for Maria Belen Chapur, the Argentine woman he first met in 2001.

Sanford also said he's "crossed the lines" with a handful of other women during 20 years of marriage, but not as far as he did with Chapur and not since the two met.

"Without wandering into that field we'll just say that I let my guard down in all senses of the word without ever crossing the line that I crossed with this situation," he said, referring to his affair with Chapur.

He insists he can fall back in love with his wife, Jenny, even as he witnesses his "own political funeral."

Sanford detailed more encounters with his mistress than he had disclosed during a rambling, emotional news conference last week. The new revelations Tuesday led the state attorney general to launch an investigation of Sanford's travels to check on taxpayer money.

Sanford delivered a personal check late Tuesday for nearly $3,000 to reimburse the state for a 2008 state-funded trip to Argentina where he visited Chapur, and he insists no public money was used for any other meetings.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, a Charleston Republican who would chair any forced ouster of the governor by the GOP-controlled Legislature, said calls to remove Sanford should await the results of the state investigation.

Among the additional visits with Chapur that Sanford detailed was an encounter that he described as a failed attempt at a farewell meeting in New York this past winter, chaperoned by a spiritual adviser and sanctioned by his wife soon after she found out about the affair.

Sanford said he saw Chapur five times over the past year, including two romantic, multi-night stays with her in New York — one in Manhattan, one in the Hamptons, both paid for in cash so no one would know — before they met in the city again with the intention of breaking up.

Four months later, he got on a plane to Argentina for another rendezvous with Chapur when he made an important discovery. "I will be able to die knowing that I had met my soul mate," he said.

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  • by disgusted Location: everywhere on Jul 1, 2009 at 09:19 AM
    Mike Easly, Mr. Sanford all attended and graduated from politician school. First and final lesson, everything is about me. Never forget that.
  • by anon Location: wallace on Jul 1, 2009 at 08:04 AM
    when you are in a deep hole , quit digging!!!
  • by Q Who? Location: Eastern NC on Jul 1, 2009 at 06:36 AM
    NO matter what is said about it, this stuff is accepted now. I can see why guys today think it is perfectly acceptable to have 2 or 3 girlfriends at once. Plan B as they call it. The more we talk about it and try to "understand" this, the more it is accepted in society. No respect. No honor. No loyalty. Just self self self. This guy's wife supported him through everything. And how does he thank her? I found my soulmate but I want to try to fall back in love with my wife. Um.... yeah. I just don't know what to say here because I know overall, it means nothing to anyone. Society has gone to Hades in a handbasket and we just keep delivering it there. Good men... Good women... They just don't exist anymore. Sorry.
  • by Michelle Location: Wilson on Jul 1, 2009 at 06:33 AM
    At least his wife doesn't have recurring cancer, and he doesn't have a love child (that we know of).
  • by Josh Location: Roper on Jul 1, 2009 at 06:11 AM
    How is this any different than what Bill Clinton least this guy didn't spend 3 months lying about it and nearly get brought up on perjury and obstruction of justice...Is he scum??? he human just like the rest of us???? yes.... Let the voters decide at the ballot box....
  • by Barbara Location: Beulaville on Jul 1, 2009 at 04:28 AM
    I am sick of hearing about this. So he had an affair. That should be between him and his wife. Fire his butt, and let him get a real job. There are more important things going on in this world that we need to worry about other than someone having an affair.See that he pays back all the money he used for his pleasures. If he did it one time he will do it again. Why should he be in the spotlight?
  • by BN Location: Duplin County on Jul 1, 2009 at 04:25 AM
    This man needs to shut-up and step-down. He is still gloating about his selfishness. The man (maybe I shoudn't say, man) this pair of slacks, yes, is still speaking of his "soul mate", that he has been with other woman and is trying to fall back in love with his wife. He's hurting his wife, his sons, even the whole state of SC.He reminds me of a Junkie, gloating about how good the Drug was and how it made his body feel. He left SC without leadership. He wasn't even home to spend Father's Day with hs sons. He compares himself to King David? This man has completely flipped his lid! He is not thinking properly. Everyone makes mistakes, but to continue to harbor on these mistakes means they don't want forgiveness, but publicity. It makes me think, did he marry his wife because of her money; because of the position her money could put him in? He keeps hurting his wife. He has the nerve to ask the woman can he go see his mistress! Shutup, Step-Down and Walk-away. Have some dignity please.

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