Sanford admits to more visits, McMaster calls for investigation

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is admitting more encounters with his Argentine mistress than he previously has disclosed.

In a lengthy, emotional interview with The Associated Press, 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.

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

He says he met her 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 get-togethers with her in the United States and contradicted a public confession last week during which he admitted to a total of four encounters in the past year.

In a deeper personal moment, Sanford told the AP he felt Chapur was his soul mate, but he would try to fall back in love with his wife.

He 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.

However, the SC Attorney General's office appears to be gearing up for a more diligent investigation into the governor's travel habits. Henry McMaster issued this statement Tuesday afternoon after Sanford's more extensive traveling was disclosed:

"In light of the governor's disclosure of additional travel today, I have requested that SLED conduct a preliminary review of all Governor Sanford's travel records to determine if any laws have been broken or any state funds misused."

Sanford, at least outwardly, welcomed the investigation, saying:

"We're pleased that SLED will look into this matter. 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."

If McMaster's office does find wrongdoing, this could signal the beginning of charges and legal proceedings against Sanford.

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