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Politicians urge disgraced Sanford to resign as governor

Campaign donor demands return of his money

By Jim Davenport
Associated Press / June 26, 2009
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COLUMBIA, S.C. - A day after his stunning confession that he cheated on his wife with a woman in Argentina, a chastened Governor Mark Sanford sought to do damage control yesterday at home with his family while many politicians urged the South Carolina leader to resign.

Fellow Republicans issued sharp calls for the disgraced Sanford to step down - a move he indicated he was not considering. And at least one campaign donor was drafting a letter asking for his money back.

One county GOP leader said the governor “talked about how our leaders have stepped away from our core values, and said one thing on the campaign trail or out in the public and did something different in the background.’’

Glenn McCall, a local representative to the Republican National Committee, said the GOP “can recover from this if we hold him accountable and the governor does the right thing and resigns for the sake of the party.’’

Sanford emerged briefly yesterday from his family’s home on Sullivan’s Island, off the coast from Charleston, and rolled down the window of his car to talk. Asked if he planned to resign, he shook his head no.

Sanford also issued a statement promising to reimburse the state for an economic-development trip he took to Argentina last year that included time he spent with his mistress. State Commerce Department records indicate more than $8,000 was spent on airfare, lodging, and meals, though Sanford did not say how much he will pay back.

After disappearing to Buenos Aires for almost a week, Sanford returned Wednesday to reveal the affair and publicly apologize to his wife and four sons, his supporters, and constituents. He also resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

His emotional news conference had even harsh critics holding their fire, saying they were praying for the family to reconcile.

But the gloves started coming off yesterday as it became clear that Sanford had used state resources on at least one trip that included a tryst with his lover.

Sanford donor Al Hill of Dallas-based AG Hill Partners, an investment firm, was having a letter drafted yesterday requesting that money given to the governor’s campaign be immediately returned. The company gave $3,500 for Sanford’s 2006 race.

“And now we are asking that it be sent back,’’ said Joy Waller, an assistant to Hill. “Do you even have to ask why?’’

Former senator Fred Thompson, who waged a failed GOP presidential bid last year, took Sanford to task on his website.

“I don’t have any sympathy in a situation where you’ve got a wife and four fairly young kids . . . don’t play it out in public,’’ Thompson said of Sanford, who had been seen as a potential candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential ticket.

Even the first lady, Jenny Sanford, seemed inclined to let her husband fend for himself, a departure for a woman who has served as his closest political adviser for years.

“His career is not a concern of mine. He’ll have to worry about that,’’ she told reporters as she drove away from the family’s beach house yesterday with children in the car. “I’m going to worry about my family and the character of my children. I’m going to take it a day at a time, and right now I am going out on the boat.’’