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.