Sanford: Mistress is 'soul mate,' will try to love wife

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Attorney General Henry McMaster says he has requested that the State Law Enforcement Division investigate Gov. Mark Sanford after he admitted Tuesday he saw his Argentine mistress more times than he previously told the public.

Sanford says Maria Belen Chapur is his 'soul mate,' but says he will try to fall back in love with his wife. Sanford also told The Associated Press he has 'crossed lines' with women other than Chapur, but never had sex with them.

Sanford said one of the trips to see Chapur included what was supposed to be a farewell meeting in New York chaperoned by a spiritual adviser soon after his wife found out about the affair.

McMaster says he wants a review of all of Sanford's travel records in light of Tuesday's disclosures.

"Now with this information today, that changes the situation and it has risen to a level where we have questions and the way to get the answers to these questions is by asking SLED to do a preliminary investigation into the questions of the governor's travel and the use of public money for private purposes," McMaster said Tuesday.

The governor described seven meetings with the woman, including their first in 2001. Sanford says there have been five over a 12-month period, including two multi-night stays with her in New York.

Sanford says he met Chapur first in 2001 at an open-air dance spot in Uruguay and a coffee date in New York in 2004 during the Republican National Convention. He says neither time was romantic.

It was the first disclosure of any liaisons with Chapur in the United States, and it contradicts a confession after his trip to Argentina last week.

Sanford previously announced he would reimburse the state for money spent during a government trip to Brazil and Argentina in June 2008.

But he insists no public money was used for any other meetings with her.

"We're pleased that SLED will look into this matter," Gov. Sanford said in a statement Tuesday after the investigation was announced. "There's been a lot of speculation and innuendo on whether or not public moneys were used to advance my admitted unfaithfulness. To be very clear: no public money was ever used in connection with this. We believe the best way to put those questions to rest once and for all is for SLED to ask these questions, and we plan on cooperating fully."

But a 2010 candidate for governor tells WIS News 10 an investigation would be too distracting to the needs of the state, and Sanford should instead resign.

"There's no way the governor can be effective over the next year and a half, in recruiting jobs into the state, talking to industry heads about creating job growth and creating new businesses," says Democratic state Senator Vincent Sheheen.

Sheheen thinks it would be better for the state if Governor Sanford stepped down, but he stopped short of calling for Sanford's impeachment if he doesn't resign.

"I think there's a different level to whether or not we believe the governor should resign or whether he's done is impeachable," Sheheen said. "Those are two different levels, and I don't think we've gotten to that point of talking about whether or not he should be impeached."

Nevertheless, rumors are flying around the capital that members of the Senate want to start the impeachment process to remove the governor.

Sheheen says he thinks the situation in South Carolina has gotten worse, not better, since Sanford first announced his affair.

"I really think we need to put aside the questions of impeachment, put aside the questions of the investigation and ask the governor to do what really needs to be done right now," Sheheen says.

Count on WIS News 10 to continue to update this story as it develops.

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