CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s ex-wife has accused him of trespassing at her home in violation of their divorce settlement, and a judge set a hearing two days after the Republican will stand for election in his effort to mount a political comeback by winning a vacant congressional seat.
Jenny Sanford confirmed Tuesday that court documents from family court acquired by The Associated Press outlining the complaint were authentic.
They show a judge has ordered Republican Mark Sanford to appear for a hearing next month, two days after he faces Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a special election for the state’s 1st District congressional seat.
The complaint says Jenny Sanford confronted the former governor 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.
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 from Sullivans Island in downtown Charleston.
Jenny Sanford said the complaint, and the timing of the hearing, has nothing to do with her husband’s attempt to rebuild his political career by winning the congressional seat he held for three terms in the 1990s.
The complaint was filed in February and a family court judge last month set the May 9 hearing date where Sanford will have to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for violating the couple’s divorce settlement.
“I am doing my best not to get in the way of his race,” Jenny Sanford, who for a time considered running herself, 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.”
Neither Sanford’s campaign spokesman nor the Colbert Busch campaign would comment on the development.
The complaint filed by Jenny Sanford’s lawyer, Deena Smith McRackan, said 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 February 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.
Sanford, who has never lost an election, is trying to make a comeback after his political career was sidelined in 2009 after confessing an extramarital affair. As a sitting governor, he disappeared from the state for five days only to return and confess to an affair with an Argentine woman, Maria Chapur. He and Jenny Sanford soon divorced and he is now engaged to Chapur who lives in Argentina.
Jenny Sanford said Tuesday that she has custody of the couple’s four boys.
In December of 2011, she brought another complaint against her former husband saying Sanford not made the $5,000 yearly contribution for one of their sons’ college education. Jenny Sanford said that issue has now been resolved and declined to comment further.
Sanford, Colbert Busch and Green Party candidate Eugene Platt are seeking the congressional seat once held by Tim Scott who last year was appointed to the U.S. Senate.