Steadfastly refusing to resign his office, S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford is exploring the idea of taking a 60-day leave of absence, sources tell FITS.
The governor has also reportedly hired a crisis management team out of Washington, D.C. to help him navigate his ongoing public relations disaster, which took a decisive turn for the worst this week when an ill-fated Associated Press interview exposed numerous inconsistencies in his account of his affair with an Argentine woman.
Sanford admitted last week that he had been unfaithful to his wife with a “dear, dear friend,” a woman since identified as former TV producer Maria Belen Chapur of Buenos Aires.
The scandal (complete with R-rated emails from the governor to his lover) broke last Wednesday after Sanford disappeared for several days without telling anyone – including his security detail and his chief of staff – where he was.
He later lied to his staff about his whereabouts, telling them he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, when he was in fact visiting his lover in Buenos Aires.
This week, the governor admitted to having seen Chapur more times than he originally disclosed. He also admitted to having “crossed lines” with other women in the past, but did not elaborate, identify those women or explain what he meant by his terminology.
He has also reimbursed the state for $3,000 in travel expenses from a 2008 trip to Argentina – a “legitimate” trip that included a romatic liaison with Chapur.
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