The wife of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Thursday that she is willing to forgive her husband for his affair with an Argentine woman, saying it “is essential for us both to move on with our lives.”
In an e-mail statement, Jenny Sanford described the governor’s behavior as “inexcusable” but said her husband has stated that “his intent and determination is to save our marriage, and to make amends to the people of South Carolina. I hope he can make good on those intentions, and for the sake of our boys.”
Mrs. Sanford told the Associated Press that she learned of the affair in January.
Also on Thursday, the state police cleared the governor of using taxpayer funds to meet with his mistress.
“He was there on legitimate business … and what he did on his own private time does not change that,” South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division Director Reggie Lloyd said at a news conference. “It doesn’t make it illegal. It doesn’t require him to pay back anything. … He did so for his own reasons. He paid that back voluntarily.”
Mr. Lloyd said that the governor had written two checks for $3,300.58 to pay for a state-related trip to South America last year. The inquiry into Mr. Sanford’s travel expenses came at the behest of Attorney General Henry McMaster after the governor said he had visited Maria Belen Chapur on more occasions than previously admitted.
The Republican governor has been engulfed in a political maelstrom since he confessed to an extramarital affair last week with Ms. Chapur, a woman he described as his “soul mate.” He had disappeared for five days to visit her in South America after telling his staff that he would be hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Calls for Mr. Sanford’s resignation continue to proliferate, but the governor issued a statement Thursday reiterating that he has no intention of stepping down before his term ends in 18 months.
“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,” said spokesman Joel Sawyer.
Mr. Sawyer added that the governor plans to leave Friday to spend the long Fourth of July weekend with his wife and their children, who are staying with her parents in Florida.
“The Sanford family asks members of the media to respect their privacy while they are together this weekend. The Sanfords also hope to take a longer family vacation toward the end of July,” Mr. Sawyer said.
More than a dozen Republican officials have called for Mr. Sanford to step down, including 12 of the party’s 27 state senators, in the aftermath of his confession.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, has said that he would like to see the governor reconcile with his family and complete his term. Mr. Graham has also noted that he is the godfather of Mr. Sanford’s youngest child.
At least six South Carolina newspapers have called for Mr. Sanford’s resignation.
Democrats have been less vocal on the subject, possibly because a Sanford resignation means that his lieutenant governor, Andre Bauer, would be able to serve more than a year in office before running for re-election, giving him a formidable advantage over any Democratic challenger.