Gov. Sanford to pay back $74K in ethics fines

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has agreed to pay $74,000 to settle charges that his travel and campaign spending violated state ethics laws.

The Republican governor is accused of breaking 37 laws, including improperly using pricey plane tickets for a trip to Argentina where he saw the mistress he infamously called his soul mate.

Under a consent agreement signed Thursday, Sanford doesn't admit guilt but does not contest the charges either.

[Read the full ethics agreement.]

In a statement, Sanford says he thinks he would have been vindicated if the Ethics Commission had heard the case, but didn't want to continue what he called an endless media circus.

"I have both tried to apologize and take full responsibility for my personal failing, as I know I let so many down in all that unfolded since this past summer. That said, I think it's important at this point to distinguish between a personal failure and the use of tax dollars," said Sanford.

[Read Gov. Sanford's full statement.]

The charges were brought after Associated Press investigations into the governor's commercial travel and flights on state planes. Sanford also is accused of improperly reimbursing himself with campaign money.

The State Ethics Commission approved the agreement Thursday.

Sanford is term-limited and will leave office in January.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press and WCSC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.