Will voters tell Mark Sanford to take a hike – for real this time?
Less than three weeks until voters in South Carolina’s first district decide whether to give their former governor another chance by electing him to Congress, his ex-wife Jenny has accused him of trespassing on her property in violation of their divorce agreement.
Sanford is engaged to marry Argentine journalist Maria Belen Chapur, whom he called his "soul mate" when admitting to a June 2009 affair that he had tried to conceal – staffers claimed he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
But according to a complaint filed by Jenny Sanford’s attorney that was leaked this week, he is still finding his way back to the home he once shared with Jenny and their four sons. An AP report says that Jenny Sanford confronted her ex-husband as he was leaving her Sullivan’s Island home on Feb. 3, using the light of his cell phone to see. The complaint also alleges this wasn’t the first time Sanford had trespassed.
Sanford, who finished his term as Governor after the affair was revealed, quickly fired back. “It’s an unfortunate reality that divorced couples sometimes have disagreements that spill over into family court. 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.”
The family court squabble spilled over into the already close May 7 race between Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a Democrat who is Stephen Colbert’s sister. “The race is not a concern,” Jenny Sanford told The State. “I am focusing on raising my children.” She could not be reached for comment, but told The Post and Courier that she believed the court documents would not become public. “The documents are real, but it was my understanding that the documents would remain sealed, along with our divorce agreement.”
Already the allegations may have hurt Sanford’s electability. The National Republican Congressional Committee has withdrawn its support of his candidacy.
“There is always another side to every story,” said Sanford in his statement. “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.”