COLUMBIA, S.C. (CN) – An investigation by South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division has uncovered no evidence that Gov. Mark Sanford improperly used taxpayer funds to see his Argentine mistress, Maria Belen Chapur.
At a press conference this afternoon, SLED Director Reggie Lloyd said the governor had been fully cooperative during the investigation and that Sanford had paid for trips to see Chapur out of his own pocket.
“We’re pleased that SLED has concluded its review, which confirms what we’ve said from day one: no public money was used in relation to the governor’s personal travel records to the media,” said Sanford’s spokesman, Joel Sawyer. “This issue is behind us once and for us.” The governor released his public and private travel records to the media.
Earlier in the day Sanford paid the state treasurer $3,300.58 to reimburse part of a taxpayer-funded and state Commerce Department-sponsored mission to South America last June. Sanford’s office said the money covered lodging, meals and airfare to Buenos Aires, where the governor met with officials and conducted state business, but also saw his mistress.
State Attorney General Henry McMaster had called for the investigation Tuesday, after Sanford revealed that he had made several more trips to see Chapur than he had previously acknowledged.
Late Wednesday, state Senate pro tempore Glenn McConnell released a statement saying Sanford needs to determine whether or not he is now more a liability than an asset to the state, and then decide his fate as governor accordingly.
“Neither I nor my colleagues in the General Assembly can require that the governor resign,” McConnell said. “That decision is his alone. I do believe, however, that the governor has lost the support of the people that is needed to govern.
“Therefore, I would ask the governor to look in his heart and decide whether with his family situation and the public uproar over what he has done and said locally and nationally, whether he can lead out state for the remainder of his term,” the statement continued.
The governor released a statement through his spokesman, Joel Sawyer, saying he has “no plans to step aside, temporarily or otherwise.”
“He remains committed and determined to repair the damage he has done to his marriage and to building back the trust of the people of South Carolina,” the statement said.
Sanford’s office said the governor plans to spend the Fourth of July holiday with his family in Florida. public records release private records release
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