Mark Sanford Surfaces Again

South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford, who ended his time as Governor of that state amid controversy after disappearing for days without explanation to visit a mistress in Argentina and then made a seemingly unlikely comeback last year by being elected to his old Congressional seat, is back in the news:

Representative Mark Sanford, whose extramarital affair destroyed his marriage, roiled South Carolina politics and gave new meaning to the phrase “hiking the Appalachian Trail,” turned to Facebook on Friday to announce the breakup of his engagement to the Argentine woman he once called his soul mate.

In a rambling post that ran 2,346 words, Mr. Sanford said that the “agony of divorce” and a custody fight with his former wife, Jenny, had put such a strain on his relationship with his fiancée, María Belén Chapur, whom he called Belén, that they decided to part ways.

“No relationship can stand forever this tension of being forced to pick between the one you love and your own son or daughter, and for this reason Belén and I have decided to call off the engagement,” wrote Mr. Sanford, 54.

When his affair with Ms. Chapur, a former television journalist, became public in 2009, Mr. Sanford was in his second term as South Carolina’s governor and was such a rising star in the Republican Party that some saw him as a potential presidential candidate.

It all unraveled when he tried to cover up a trip to Argentina with Ms. Chapur, telling aides that he had been unreachable for five days because he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail,” a phrase that has become a euphemism for infidelity.


Ahead of last year’s special election, Mrs. Sanford filed a lawsuit claiming that he violated the terms of their divorce by trespassing on her property.

The legal proceedings grew more contentious this month, when Mrs. Sanford tried to curb his visitation rights with their 15-year-old son. She also wanted Mr. Sanford to be required to have psychological counseling and take anger management classes. (The Sanfords also have three other sons.)

Before publishing his Facebook post, Mr. Sanford had filed a legal motion for a gag order to prevent Mrs. Sanford from disparaging him publicly.

“My client has always put their children first, and will always stand up for the boys’ best interests and safety,” Marie-Louise Ramsdale, Mrs. Sanford’s lawyer, said in an interview on Friday night.

Mr. Sanford said in his Facebook post that he planned to get a lawyer to defend himself, and would look for “measured justice” to put an end to the controversy. A court hearing on the gag order is scheduled for Monday, Ms. Ramsdale said.

As for Mr. Sanford’s relationship with Ms. Chapur, he left the door open to a rekindling if the “waters calm,” but said the situation with his ex-wife was not conducive to building a future together.

“Belén is a remarkably wonderful woman who I have always loved and I will be forever grateful for not only the many years we have known and loved each other, but the last six very tough ones wherein she has encouraged me and silently borne its tribulations with her ever warm and kind spirit,” Mr. Sanford wrote.

Sanford will most assuredly be re-elected in November. He faces no Democratic opponent at all this time around. There is apparently an Independent candidate in the race, but he has not filed a single FEC report, which would seem to indicate that he has raised no money and made no campaign expenditures.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2014, Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. rudderpedals says:

    Wouldn’t you want to ask Mark if in retrospect he thought it was all worth it? The answer could be instructive, perhaps the most useful lesson the man could share.

  2. stonetools says:

    The election and re-election of Mark Sanford sure gives the lie to the claim that conservative voters think that “family values” are paramount.Seems “kick the poors” and “protect the privileged” as a message gets you elected as a conservative, no matter what your private life is.

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  4. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools: After watching them for awhile it becomes obvious that to conservatives you are what you say you are, and what they want to believe you are, pretty much independent of actions. Intention always seems to carry a lot more weight than outcomes. I think they still count Newt Gingrich as a family values guy.

  5. Poster says:

    @gVOR08: You don’t know many conservatives, or you are a dishonest person. If you spent time talking to conservatives, you would know that Gingrich has been a persona non-grata for a long time. That was why he did so poorly in the most recent presidential primary. Also, his embrace of global warming was a political non-starter. If you actually knew what you were talking about, you would know that though, wouldn’t you?

  6. Poster says:

    @stonetools:Do you know that conservatives are voting for him? Perhaps he is being elected by mainstream Republicans and Libertarians — you know, the non-social-issues set? Perhaps you should meet conservatives and count how many times they advocate kicking the poor. (You won’t hear that phrase or anything coming close, I promise).Conservative economic policies remove regulation and taxes which help the poor earn and save more. Also, a lot of conservatives are Christians, which mean that they practice charity — that is, individual charity, rather than forced government redistribution, which is what progressives call charity.

  7. rudderpedals says:

    @Poster: Unfortunately there’s not even a thread’s width in effective difference between forced government redistribution and a humane, civilized social safety net.

  8. ernieyeball says:

    @rudderpedals:..The answer could be instructive, perhaps the most useful lesson the man could share.

    Share with whom?
    I can’t see many cheating husbands across the fruited plain saying to themselves “Oh yeah. There was that Sanford fellow from Brazil that cheated on his wife and got elected Governor of Indiana and said it was so stressful for his kids…hmmm…maybe I better put my pants back on.”
    I suspect it would go more like this…!quotes/

  9. wr says:

    @Poster: No, you don’t say “kick the poor.” You say take away all government aid, end the minimum wage, and let them starve on the street or die of an easily treatable ailmaent, and that will convince them to stand on their own two feet and become millionaires, because that’s really being good to them.

    But every sentient being in the world knows what you really mean.

  10. bk says:

    @Poster: Thanks for the laugh.

  11. rudderpedals says:

    @ernieyeball: You’re probably right. These peckers have their own minds & goals, well-sharpened over thousands of years of evolution.

  12. ernieyeball says:

    God is in my head but the devil is in my pants!

    Thank You Jonathan Winters. RIP

  13. Brainster says:

    Soul mates apparently come with an expiration date these days.

  14. Pinky says:

    @wr: This is the thing that Jonathan Haidt wrote about. More conservatives and moderates can understand liberals, but few liberals can understand conservatives. Their preconceptions of what the other side must think are just so far off that they can’t articulate the other side’s views.

  15. Janis Gore says:

    @Pinky: I’ve always found this situation to be beyond Conservative or Liberal — more like tragic. A truly unfortunately placed grand passion.

    I’ve simply lost sympathy for the ex-wife. Go be a nice Stihl heiress, girl. Isn’t that good enough for you?

    Little Miss Jenny don’t strike one as a “comfortable woman” do she?

  16. Pinky says:

    @Janis Gore: I always have sympathy for the ex. Rich or poor, it stinks to go through a divorce. And I agree that this isn’t a conservative or liberal issue – I was replying to wr’s bad parody of conservative thinking.

  17. Andre Kenji says:

    I don´t think that anyone can understand US Movement Conservatives.

  18. MikeSJ says:

    I understand he missed some child support payments.

    He seemed to think the court mandated payment amounts were “suggestions” rather than requirements.

    All in All, a very odd man.

  19. Pinky says:

    @Andre Kenji: Don’t you think the internet gives everyone an opportunity to increase their understanding? Poster got six downvotes, and bk thanked him for the laugh, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It isn’t like it’s difficult to get people to talk politics online. People could learn to understand each other. My bet is that most of the conservatives on this site could write comments that were indistinguishable from liberals’, but the reverse wouldn’t hold true.

  20. Janis Gore says:

    From what I’ve read, Jenny was the brains and the money behind the couple. If she’s so hurt, withdraw from the courts.

    If she still wants power, she needs to get out there and campaign constuctively on her own behalf before she become too utterly despicable to vote for.

    I have a romantic streak. That bitch doesn’t. I’d like to see her up against ISIL. Hell, I’d run.

    The stereotype of the sweet, dewy, submissive Southern woman is a myth. Yeah, a reverse lisp.

  21. Janis Gore says:

    Southern women talk about which is the best 12-gauge to keep behind the front door while they do scrap-booking together.

  22. Pinky says:

    Janis – Any other 1840’s stereotypes you want to disabuse us of?

  23. Janis Gore says:

    Well, since you asked: