A Turncoat in the Midst?
After appearing at the reception for the 52nd Annual Silver Elephant Gala on August 2, 2019, See Gala, former S.C. Governor, Mark Sanford has announced his bid to oppose President Trump for the GOP nomination. At the reception, Sanford was surrounded by an enthusiastic group of supporters and fans who refused to give any ground as he posed for selfies. At the dinner and gala, our correspondents did not see the former governor among the luminaries. In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, August 8, Sanford made national news by confirming a challenge to Trump: “The Republican Party is facing an identity crisis,” and he wants the GOP to “take a look at itself and do some soul searching.”See Interview
The SC Statehouse Takes Another Hit
After the 2009 spectacle of his fall from grace made South Carolina’s then governor the laughing stock of the nation, salacious dirty laundry spread around the world. Republicans in high and low places presumed Mark Sanford’s political career, which included aspirations for the United States’ presidency, was washed up. Mrs. Jenny Sanford had relayed a key detail of their wedding preparations. Mark said he wanted to remove the part of the wedding vows that promised fidelity. Yet the marriage took place, despite the biggest warning flag any bride-to-be could ever hope to have waved in her face. Any assertions made by others who claimed he would be the last person in the world to cheat might not have been aware of this pre-marital time bomb.
About the Former First Lady
Heiress and niece of Rushton Skakel, brother of Ethel Kennedy, Jennifer Sullivan Sanford was an investment banker at Lazard and Freres & Company, N.Y., when she met Mark Sanford at a beach party in The Hamptons. Jenny Sanford had a strong head for finance and administration. The good-looking and very easy going Sanford relied upon Jenny’s expertise in finance and her personal wealth to underwrite his fledgling political career. Everyone could see something special in him, great potential for leadership and possibly, a seat in the White House. Mrs. Sanford was instrumental in Sanford’s campaigns and almost every aspect of state governance. She was feared within the halls of the State House and drew a figurative line on the marbled floor between the offices of the Governor and the lieutenant governor, after he was caught speeding through a red light while running late to open a legislative session. It was understood that the line could be crossed by a select few. Insiders said Mrs. Sanford was aware of his relationship and allowed chaperoned visits between the soulmates. Her decision to file for divorce came only after the public humiliation he brought upon Jenny and their four sons. In 2012, Jenny Sanford was consulted by her former husband in a bid to capture the Congressional seat he once held. Mrs. Sanford, who considered a run for the seat herself, assured him she would not challenge him in the primary. He won the election and served until 2019, after losing a state primary. See 2012 election
Jenny Sanford married Andy McCay, an investment banker on March 31, 2018. As reported by Tammy La Gorce in The New York Times on April 6, 2018: “After Scandal and Divorce, Jenny Sanford Learns She Can Love Again”
Painful to Watch
During a National Governors Association in New York, close to the attacks of 9/11/01, Sanford met Argentine news reporter, Maria Belen Chapur and became dear friends. The affair of the heart only became intimate within the last “several months“, claimed Sanford at the soul-baring press conference in 2009. full press conference
The Governor is Missing
From June 18 until June 24, 2009, the governor was missing. His aides told authorities he had gone hiking along the Appalachian Trail. First Lady, Jenny Sanford was unreachable at the Governor’s Mansion. When contacted at their home on Sullivan’s Island, she first told reporters he had taken a few days to get away and write. Indeed, the couple had entered a secret trial separation some five months prior to the spectacle. The State Newspaper in Columbia, SC, received copies of emails between Sanford and his paramour in early 2009. However, the paper decided not to pursue the story. The source and possible motivation behind the receipt of the emails was questionable.
Sanford’s vehicle was located at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, hiking shoes, gear and sunscreen left behind.car found His flight was tracked to Buenos Aires, Argentina. By the time public confirmation of his safety and location was revealed, Sanford was on a flight home to face the music. Along the route, The State Newspaper dispatched correspondents on the outside chance they might meet him at the connection in Atlanta for a short interview. You can hear the Governor ask for The State’s “Gina” in the full press conference above.
Alive and Well…
The story hit worldwide press and the internet with a frenzy. Soon, Governor Sanford would appear under the rotunda of the Statehouse surrounded by press from all over the nation. As he told “his truth” he seemed to be wearing his heart on his sleeve. Tearfully, he apologized to his wife, four young boys and the citizens of South Carolina. In hindsight, Sanford probably wishes he’d stopped there. Lurid details emerged as Sanford seemed to bare his entire soul, gushing with sentiment and remorse at the same time. He spoke of “forbidden love”. The seductive emails were released. Soon, the “Love-Guv” became the butt of late night comedians and even Kathie Lee Gifford had something to say on NBC’s Today. Kathie Lee relayed her own experience with Frank Gifford’s infidelity and the hell they endured from tabloids and fair-weather friends. Gifford had tears in her eyes as she described what she had seen from Mark Sanford’s emotional display. It was a pitiful and heart-breaking sight, in spite of the duplicity.
The Next Inauguration
In January, 2011, after the first inauguration of Governor Nikki Haley, future Ambassador to the U.N., the formal ball was fit for a queen. Prior Governor Sanford appeared, well into the cold night, dim light and lively festivities. He wore a long black coat dusted with snow and was accompanied by one security agent. Amidst the loud beach music, free-flowing beverages and party atmosphere, he cut a wide berth. Some wondered aloud why he would be there. A colleague and loyal supporter approached him, gave him a big hug and handshake. She told him, “You did a great job. We are proud of you. It’s not over, you’ll see.” She was right. In 2013, Sanford was back in D.C. His fiancé, Maria Belen was on his right, Jenny Sanford and their four growing boys on his left.
In His Defense
Governor Sanford was censured by the state legislature and found to have used taxpayer money for his illicit travels. He paid the money back immediately. South Carolinians are very forgiving. Mark Sanford embodied fiscal and social conservatism and honors the value of human life. As a U.S. Congressman, he saved taxpayers’ money by bunking in his office while in session. He’s shrewd and frugal, friendly, generally approachable, and very charming. His inaugural gala was a casual barbeque feast, free of charge and family-oriented. South Carolinians from any political affiliation, or none whatsoever, were welcomed. The event was seen as a success for bipartisan unity. As governor, he took time to meet personally and regularly, with individual constituents about some of the most pressing concerns and issues of our time, among them an instance of torture and abuse of troubled children in a group home in the Upstate of SC. That was 10 years ago. The home has been shut down under the terms of a landmark lawsuit; the injured party has asked to remain anonymous at this time.
When greeting a group of campaign workers at a party on Sullivan’s Island, near Charleston, he came to the door in a faded polo shirt, cut-off khakis and bare feet, holding a cold brew. Guys and gals in deck shoes and sundresses seemed over-dressed. He is extremely laid-back and not the least bit pretentious. He is the epitome of a true Southern gentleman, favors his tractor to a limousine, an outspoken Christian and also a flawed human being, an admission he would be the first one to make.
At one of many late election night celebrations for U.S. Congressman, A. Joe Wilson, (R-SC) (later censured for shouting, “You lie!” at President Obama), parking was scarce. The Governor gave up his parking spot for our correspondents and made sure they made it safely indoors.
What About Maria?
Mark Sanford and Maria Belen Chapur were engaged to be married in 2012. The relationship ended in 2014 via a Facebook post from Sanford, (see link to “Heavy,” below), that came as a shock to her. The rift was caused by a disagreement on the wedding date. Sanford wanted to wait two more years until his youngest son was no longer a juvenile. “Chapur told The New York Times: ‘ I’ve already been five years waiting and two years since the engagement,’ Belen Chapur expressed upset, blaming Sanford’s political career for the break-up whereas he blamed the effect it was all having on his kids. ‘I think that I was not useful to him anymore – he made the engagement thing four months before the elections,‘ Chapur told the Times. ‘So this is not about his son, this is about his career and his ambitions,’ she said. Still … Mark Sanford was ‘the love of my life’. See link to “Heavy Since the 2,400 word Facebook post from Sanford, in “Heavy“, he and Chapur have been spotted together at many social events and at Miami International Airport.
GOP Speaks Out
At least 48 hours after Sanford’s announcement, the utter futility of the challenge has been broadcast far and wide by the likes of Rush Limbaugh. On Monday, Limbaugh made jokes about the “Appalachian Trail” and Sanford’s doomed liaison with his Argentine “soulmate“. Bottom line, “He has no chance“ in South Carolina. President Trump has had a bit of fun poking at a few GOP challengers: “They’re all losers”. SC State Republican party chair Drew McKissick canceled the primary and in a statement from the SCGOP: “LET’S BE CLEAR, THIS IS ABOUT MARK SANFORD LOOKING TO RAISE HIS POLITICAL CAREER FROM THE GRAVE, NOT HIM WANTING TO ADVANCE IDEAS. THE SIMPLE FACT IS THAT SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICANS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT PRESIDENT TRUMP AND KNOW THIS VANITY PROJECT IS GOING ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE.” – Chairman Drew McKissick
It is going nowhere, for now.