Sanford Didn't Improperly Use State Money, South Carolina Officials Say
Friday, July 3, 2009
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford did not improperly use state money to pay for trips to New York and South America to see his Argentine mistress, state law enforcement officials concluded yesterday, as the governor reiterated that he has no plans to step down despite mounting pressure to do so.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division reviewed Sanford's travel records and "found absolutely no misuse of funds," agency director Reggie Lloyd said in an interview. Sanford (R), who is spending the holiday weekend in Florida with his wife and their four sons, released 44 pages of personal and official travel records and credit card statements yesterday showing that he did not use public money in connection with his extramarital affair.
He reimbursed the state $3,304 this week for part of an official state-sponsored trip to Brazil and Argentina in June 2008 during which he spent time with his mistress, Maria Belén Chapur, said Sanford's spokesman, Joel Sawyer.
Sanford's wife, Jenny, who is vacationing with the couple's children, family and friends at her parents' home in a gated community in Hobe Sound, Fla., issued a five-paragraph statement yesterday calling her husband's behavior "inexcusable" and saying he showed "a lack of judgment," but adding that she is open to forgiving him.
"There is no question that Mark's behavior is inexcusable," Jenny Sanford said. "Actions have consequences and he will be dealing with those consequences for a long while. Trust has been broken and will need to be rebuilt. Mark will need to earn back that trust, first and foremost with his family, and also with the people of South Carolina."
She went on to quote from the Bible and the South African cleric Desmond Tutu, and also added: "Mark showed a lack of judgment in his recent actions as governor. However, his far more egregious offenses were committed against God, the institutions of marriage and family, our boys and me."
Also yesterday, the company that was to publish Sanford's book on fiscal conservatism, titled "Within Our Means" and scheduled for publication in March 2010, announced that it had canceled the deal. Adrian Zackheim, president of Sentinel, a conservative division of the Penguin Group, said in a statement to the Associated Press that "this is a mutual decision" and that "we wish Governor Sanford the best."
More than a week after Sanford acknowledged that he secretly traveled to Argentina to meet his mistress, many GOP leaders are calling on him to give up the governorship. But Sawyer said yesterday that the governor "has no plans to step aside, temporarily or otherwise."
"He remains committed and determined to repair the damage he has done in his marriage and to building back the trust of the people of South Carolina," Sawyer said. He said the Sanford family will take another vacation toward the end of the month.
Lloyd, a Sanford appointee who conducted the inquiry at the request of South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster (R), said Sanford was "extremely cooperative" with the review.
Sawyer said the review "confirms what we've said from Day One: No public money was used in relation to the governor's admitted marital infidelity. This issue is behind us once and for all."