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Sanford saw Argentine girlfriend during taxpayer-funded trip

Gov. Mark Sanford met with his mistress on a taxpayer funded trip to Brazil and Argentina last year, according to documents released by the S.C. Department of Commerce and e-mails exchanged between Sanford and the woman.

The S.C. Department of Commerce paid more than $8,000 for the trip to Brazil and Argentina June 21-28 of last year, according to documents Commerce released today.

Sanford, in a statement, acknowledged the meeting and said he would reimburse the state.

This Thursday, June 18, 2009 photo taken from a security camera video and released Thursday, June 25, 2009 by Columbia Metropolitan Airport police shows Gov. Mark Sanford walking through the airport wheeling a small suitcase the day he left on a secret trip to see a woman in Argentina with whom he admitted an affair.

"... 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,” Sanford said. “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."

It is unclear how much the governor will be returning to the state.

State Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, said he would call for an independent investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division into Sanford activities at a press conference tomorrow. Knotts said he wanted answers to a number of questions, including if Sanford used state money to visit the woman, how many times he visited Argentina, if he lied to staff and others.

Knotts said Sanford's pledge to repay the money rang hollow.

"That is not acceptable," Knotts said. "He used that trip in order to get to her."

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