Mark Sanford’s Campaign About To Collapse?
Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford seemed to be on the verge of an unlikely political comeback after he won the GOP’s nomination for the 1st Congressional District now appears to be in the middle of another bizarre story involving his personal life:
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford must appear in court two days after running for a vacant congressional seat to answer a complaint that he trespassed at his ex-wife’s home, according to court documents acquired by The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The complaint says Jenny Sanford confronted Sanford leaving her Sullivans Island home on Feb. 3 by a rear door, using his cell phone for a flashlight. Her attorney filed the complaint the next day and Jenny Sanford confirmed Tuesday the documents are authentic.
The couple’s 2010 divorce settlement says neither may enter the other’s home without permission. Mark Sanford lives about a 20-minute drive away in downtown Charleston.
Republican Mark Sanford is trying to revive his political career that was derailed by an extramarital affair that ended the couple’s marriage. He faces Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch on May 7 as he tries to regain the 1st District congressional seat he held for three terms in the 1990s.
Spokesman Joel Sawyer said the Sanford campaign had no immediate comment on the court documents.
The complaint filed by Jenny Sanford’s lawyer, Deena Smith McRackan, said that Mark Sanford has “entered into a pattern of entering onto plaintiff’s property. Plaintiff has informed defendant on a number of occasions that this behavior is in violation of the court’s order and has demanded that it not occur again.”
In Febuary of 2011, McRackan sent a letter to Mark Sanford telling him not to trespass on Jenny Sanford’s property. A copy of that letter was also sent to the local police, according to court filings.
Jenny Sanford said Tuesday that she has custody of the couple’s four boys.
She said the complaint has nothing to do with her former husband’s efforts to rebuild his career in politics. She said it was filed with the court the day after the incident and when a family court judge last month set the case for the docket, it happened to be two days after the election.
“I am doing my best not to get in the way of his race,” Jenny Sanford told the AP. “I want him to sink or swim on his own. For the sake of my children I’m trying my best not to get in the way, but he makes things difficult for me when he does things like trespassing.”
Sanford’s explanation for this apparently boils down to the idea that he wanted to watch the Super Bowl with his son:
Former South Carolina governor and congressional candidate Mark Sanford admitted Wednesday that he entered his ex-wife’s home in early February — an apparent violation of the terms of their divorce settlement — but said he did so so his son wouldn’t have to watch the Super Bowl alone.
The 1st Congressional District Republican candidate, running in a close race against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, responded with a lengthy statement to an Associated Press report Tuesday night that Jenny Sanford filed a court complaint accusing him of trespassing. The news is a serious setback to Sanford, coming less than three weeks before the May 7 special election and as he is trying to assuage voter concerns about his extramarital affair that derailed his political career four years ago.
“It’s an unfortunate reality that divorced couples sometimes have disagreements that spill over into family court,” Sanford wrote. “I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened.
“There is always another side to every story, and while I am particularly curious how records that were sealed to avoid the boys dealing with embarrassment are now somehow exposed less than three weeks before this election, I agree with Jenny that the media is no place to debate what is ultimately a family court matter, and out of respect for Jenny and the boys, I’m not going to have any further comment at this time,” Sanford said.
Now, it’s worth noting that this isn’t really a stalking allegation because Sanford’s ex-wife was out of town at the time. Nonetheless, it’s a violation of a court order and it occurred at time when he was already running for Congress. One can understand a parent’s desire to spend time with their children, especially in a divorce situation where one spouse has primary custody. Nonetheless, Sanford was surely aware of the Court Order and the potential consequences of violating it not just legally, but also politically. So, once again, he’s behavior is somewhat inexplicable.
It’s unclear what impact this will have on the race, but I doubt it will be good. This is especially true now that the National Republican Congressional Committee has announced it will no longer be involved in the race and has pulled all of its ads.