At a jaw dropping press conference today, Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) announced that during his mysterious absence over Father's Day weekend, he was, in fact, visiting a woman in Argentina with whom he has been having an affair for the last year.
"The bottom line is this -- I have been unfaithful to my wife," Sanford said before a mass of cameras and reporters at the State House in Columbia, S.C. "All I can say is I apologize," he said.
Sanford, an avowed Christian conservative, apologized to "people of faith," wiped tears from his eyes, and invoked the Bible during his confession to the cameras. "If you were to look at God's laws, they are in every instance designed to protect people from themselves. I think that that is the bottom line of God's law."
The governor did not resign from his job, but did step down from his leadership position as the head of the Republican Governors Association.
When answering questions from reporters, Sanford said he had not had other affairs and that, "I am committed to trying to get my heart right." He also described news trucks parked outside his family's house on Sullivan's Island, S.C., and asked reporters for privacy, "If not for me, then for (Jenny) and the boys."
Sanford's admission of infidelity is the second in as many weeks for high-profile Republicans who were considered rising stars within their party. Last week, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) admitted that he, too, had been unfaithful to his wife. At a Las Vegas press conference, Ensign said he had been in a relationship with a campaign staff member, who was also the wife of the top staffer in his Senate office. Like Sanford, Ensign resigned his leadership post within the party, but not his job.
UPDATE: The State newspaper in Columbia has revealed portions of several emails between Sanford and his mistress, Maria. The paper notes that it obtained the emails in December, and that they come from Sanford's personal email account.
In one, Sanford writes to Maria, "You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines..." You get the picture.
In another, Maria writes back, "But unfortunately I am not in love with him ... You are my love ... something hard to believe even for myself as it's also a kind of impossible love, not only because of distance but situation."
You can see the full report from The StateHERE, and video of the Sanford press conference below:
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