Gov. Mark Sanford was on a state-paid trip to Brazil and official state-paid meetings in Buenos Aires in June 2008 at the same time he met with his Argentine mistress, according to documents obtained today by The Post and Courier.
The documents from the state Commerce Department show that he attended business meetings in the days following his June 21 arrival, but that he flew down to Buenos Aires between June 25 and 27.
The itinerary shows seven meetings scheduled during that three-day period.
The trade delegation did not accompany the governor to the meetings in Argentina, but he was accompanied by a project manager from the South Carolina Department of Commerce, which is standard practice for meetings with public officials and prospective companies, a statement from Commerce Department spokeswoman Kara Borie said.
E-mails obtained by The State newspaper of Columbia between Sanford and his mistress, Maria, reference the trip. In an e-mail dated July, 4, 2008, Sanford confirmed the two had been together the previous week. ""You know that I miss you. Unbeleivably (sic) hard to imagine it has been a week."
She responded, "Have been thinking of you while watching the beautiful blue sea (a) great part of my day. and remembering with a great smile on my face, the time we have spent together."
Sanford responded to criticism of the Commerce Department trip late Thursday afternoon.
"As noted by the Department of Commerce, I attended a trade mission with the Department of Commerce last June. As the agenda notes, the mission was spent meeting with government and private business officials in both Brazil and Argentina. This trip was handled very professionally by the Department of Commerce, and I'm proud of their work there.
"However, while the purpose of this trip was an entirely professional and appropriate business development trip, I made a mistake while I was there in meeting with the woman who I was unfaithful to my wife with.
That has raised some very legitimate concerns and questions, and as such I am going to reimburse the state for the full cost of the Argentina leg of this trip," Gov. Sanford said.
More than $8,000 in taxpayer money was spent on Sanford's portion of the Brazil and Argentina trip, though it's unclear how much of that was for the trip to Argentina.