Sanford's wife announces she will divorce governor

Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 9:41 AM
Last updated 6:54 PM
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COLUMBIA - South Carolina's first lady, a former Wall Street vice president who helped launch her husband's political career, filed for divorce Friday more than five months after his tearful public confession of an affair with an Argentine woman.

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Jenny Sanford  Associated Press
Associated Press
Jenny Sanford

"This came after many unsuccessful efforts at reconciliation, yet I am still dedicated to keeping the process that lies ahead peaceful for our family," Jenny Sanford said in a statement. The divorce complaint was filed in Charleston County Family Court.

In a statement, the governor blamed himself and said he and Jenny will "work earnestly to be the best mom and dad we can be to four of the finest boys on earth."

"While it is not the course I would have hoped for, or would choose, I want to take full responsibility for the moral failure that led us to this tragic point," he said. "Jenny is a great person, and has been a remarkable wife, mother and first lady. She has been more than gracious these last six months and gone above and beyond in her patience and commitment to put the needs of others in front of her own."

Jenny Sanford's announcement came after a week of wrenching twists, including a decision by a legislative panel Wednesday to turn aside an impeachment push in favor of a formal rebuke for the governor's conduct. He told reporters he still wanted to reconcile with his wife, while she said in a television interview that it was a simple decision to not stand with him as he publicly confessed the affair.

"Certainly his actions hurt me, and they caused consequences for me, but they don't in any way take away my own self-esteem," she told ABC's Barbara Walters. "They reflect poorly on him."

Her divorce complaint did not mention money, property or custody arrangements for the couple's sons.

"The defendant has engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman other than plaintiff," the complaint reads. "Plaintiff has not condoned that relationship and is informed and believes that she is entitled to a divorce ... from the defendant on the grounds of adultery."

As first lady, Jenny Sanford has little official role in state government, but she has been a quiet presence since her husband took office in 2003, often attending morning meetings with his top staff and working on a public health campaign.

Just last week, she welcomed visitors to a holiday open house at the governor's mansion. Mark Sanford arrived about two hours after the event began and gave his wife a quick kiss, but they spent much of the night 10 feet apart, entertaining separate groups.

Jenny Sanford had said after news of the scandal broke in June that she was willing to reconcile with the two-term Republican governor. She weathered the publication of e-mail exchanges between her husband and his lover, Maria Belen Chapur, and an Associated Press interview in which Sanford called Chapur his "soul mate" and admitted "crossing the line" with other women while he was married.

Mark Sanford, 49, disappeared for almost a week in late June to see Chapur leaving his staff, his wife and the rest of the state in the dark about his whereabouts. Initially, his staff told reporters he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

Jenny Sanford said she learned about the affair in January when she came across a copy of a letter her husband wrote to Chapur. In the months following, he asked several times to visit the other woman, she said.

"It's one thing to forgive adultery; it's another thing to condone it," she told the AP two days after her husband revealed the affair at a news conference.

"He was told in no uncertain terms not to see her," she said. "I was hoping he was on the Appalachian Trail. But I was not worried about his safety. I was hoping he was doing some real soul searching somewhere and devastated to find out it was Argentina. It's tragic."

Days later, after the governor told AP he was relying on religious faith to help salvage his marriage even though the love of his life was in Argentina, Jenny Sanford said it was up to the people of South Carolina whether they wanted to give their governor a second chance.

"His far more egregious offenses were committed against God, the institutions of marriage and family, our boys and me," she said.

In May, the governor seemed uncertain of what road to take. As the couple was in the midst of a series of religious counseling sessions, he wrote a letter to his spiritual adviser describing himself as emotionally torn.

"The one part where my heart at this point is not where I wish it was is with Jenny," Sanford wrote. She "is a great girl, great mom, great wife and best friend and I am committed to her in a commitment sense, but my heart is just not alive here as it ought to be."

No South Carolina governor has gone through a divorce while in office. The state in 1949 became the last in the nation to allow divorce, said Walter Edgar, a historian at the University of South Carolina.

Born Jennifer Sullivan, the first lady grew up near Chicago. Her grandfather founded the Skil Corp., a power tool manufacturer. She graduated from Georgetown University in 1984 with a degree in finance, then worked for the Wall Street investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co., where she was a vice president in mergers and acquisitions.

The Sanfords met in New York in the 1980s when Mark Sanford also was working in finance, at Goldman Sachs.

The couple married in 1989 and relocated to South Carolina, where Sanford worked in real estate before serving three terms in Congress. Jenny Sanford managed several of her husband's campaigns. Until revelations of the affair, he had been considered a possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate.

The couple separated two weeks before news of the affair became public. Jenny Sanford and her sons sought refuge at the couple's beachfront home on Sullivans Island while Sanford remained in the state capital of Columbia, occasionally visiting his family.

Unlike some political wives, Jenny Sanford did not stand next to her husband when he revealed the affair with Chapur, whom he met on a trip to Uruguay in 2001.

Governor Sanford reacts to divorce filing

CHARLESTON, S.C. - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford blames his own moral failures for his wife's desire to divorce him.

He says Jenny Sanford is gracious and remarkable and has been patient and selfless since he publicly revealed his affair with an Argentine woman in June.

The first lady filed for divorce Friday because of his adultery. In a statement, the governor says his family structure may change but he and his wife will continue to work to be the best parents they can for their four sons.

Jenny Sanford originally said over the summer she was willing to reconcile. More recently she described the couple as separated.

She and the couple's four boys had been living at the Sanfords' beachfront home.

SEE THE DOCUMENTS

Divorce complaint filed by first lady Jenny Sanford

Divorce summons to be served to Governor Sanford

Associated Press flash timeline of the Governor Sanford scandal

READ THE STATEMENT

Here is the text of a statement released Friday by South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford on filing for divorce from Gov. Mark Sanford months after he publicly confessed an affair with an Argentine woman:

"As so many of us know, the dissolution of any marriage is a sad and painful process. It is also a very personal and private one. Because Mark and I are public figures, we have naturally had less privacy with which to deal with our difficulties than do other couples. Indeed, I know it will soon become known so I choose to release this brief notice that I am now filing for divorce. This came after many unsuccessful efforts at reconciliation, yet I am still dedicated to keeping the process that lies ahead peaceful for our family."

"I remain thankful to so many across this state and nation for their words of encouragement and prayers during this difficult time. Please know the boys and I are doing well and are blessed with the incredible support of friends and family and bolstered by our faith and the unfailing love of our God above."

TIMELINE

June 25 - Wandering SC governor admits straying in Argentina

June 25 - South Carolina reacts to news of affair

June 25 - Jenny Sanford issues statement

June 26 - Sanford's little lie masks a much bigger one

June 27 - Alleged video of Sanford mistress surfaces

June 27 - Wife told Sanford to stop affair

June 30 - Couple went to Bible 'boot camp'

June 30 - Sanford says mistress is soul mate

August 27 - Editorial: Sanford should resign

August 27 - Sanford says he won't quit

October 2 - Sanford lauds Aiken Tech in career center visit

November 24 - Sanford faces 37 charges he broke state ethics laws

December 4 - South Carolina first family faces subdued yule

December 9 - S.C. panel nixes Sanford impeachment, recommend rebuke

December 10 - SC Gov. Sanford wants to reconcile with first lady

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Back to story
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Back to story 12/11/09 - 01:48 pm
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It looks like Mrs. Sanford is

It looks like Mrs. Sanford is giving herself an early Christmas present. Good for her!

RichmondCountyResident1
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RichmondCountyResident1 12/11/09 - 02:06 pm
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Although I'm not a Mark

Although I'm not a Mark Sanford fan, I do sympathize with his and her plight. Jenny Sanford is a classy lady and has every right to do as she has done. Although they are public figures, I hope everyone will give them some privacy with matter and just pray for them.

Does_it_really_matter
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Does_it_really_matter 12/11/09 - 02:07 pm
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The term "Soul-Mate" is a

The term "Soul-Mate" is a joke.......we are perfectly compatible with any number of people. As a matter of fact, my ex is on "Soul Mate" number three or four...I lost count.

corgimom
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corgimom 12/11/09 - 02:14 pm
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"So Willie, how come country

"So Willie, how come country songs only talk about the MAN cheating?" Not true. There are many songs about cheating women. Who do you think Hank Williams was talking about when he wrote "Your Cheatin' Heart"? I could rattle off a list of them, but you would most likely recognize Hank's.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 12/11/09 - 02:23 pm
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RCR I agree with your 1:06pm

RCR I agree with your 1:06pm post. Although I underestand Mrs. Sanford's choice to file for divorce, I can't help but think that this marrigage could be saved it both are willing to place God first in their marriage. My heart goes out to these 4 boys mostly.

corgimom
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corgimom 12/11/09 - 02:38 pm
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InChristLove, since you

InChristLove, since you supposedly know so much about the Bible, then you know that Jesus said a couple could divorce for adultery. People that commit adultery aren't putting God first and don't want to, if they were, they wouldn't be committing adultery. Sheesh.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 12/11/09 - 02:41 pm
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hey not, the only reason why

hey not, the only reason why he was talking the talk was with a very "weak" field he still had his eye on the republican nomination...what could the democrats say after demanding that everyone "accept" what clinton did and it was "only about sex".....well at least clinton didn't abandon his post to run off to another foreign country to be with another woman and very few if any knew where he was

Lobosolo
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Lobosolo 12/11/09 - 02:48 pm
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Another fine example of "the

Another fine example of "the sanctity of marriage" espoused by the Repubs, who will no doubt harp on their righteousness of marriage when the elections roll around again! Sanford was one of the highest and mightiest in this regard before his STUPIDITY got him caught. Classless SOB should step down... Take him to the cleaners, Jenny!

RIPAmerica
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RIPAmerica 12/11/09 - 02:54 pm
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As a monogamous married man

As a monogamous married man (23 years), I want my minority protected status legislated. Maybe they can attach it to a war appropriations bill?

easy breezy
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easy breezy 12/11/09 - 02:59 pm
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You go girl!! Bout time!!

You go girl!! Bout time!!

dwb619
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dwb619 12/11/09 - 03:28 pm
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In my opionion, it took the

In my opionion, it took the corpoate lawyers of Skil Power Tools this long to cut the governor out of the family fortune. Another carpet-bagger that came south, and we elected.

JohnQPublic
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JohnQPublic 12/11/09 - 03:44 pm
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Sanford is a poor excuse for

Sanford is a poor excuse for a husband, a ding dong for hurting his wife and children, and so close to old fart status that I bet his "soul mate" won't want him for very long.

0430
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0430 12/11/09 - 03:47 pm
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Mrs. Sanford, stay away from

Mrs. Sanford, stay away from the Republicans with their "Family Value Bull".

RIPAmerica
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RIPAmerica 12/11/09 - 03:51 pm
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Mrs Sanford, stay away from

Mrs Sanford, stay away from the Democrats with their "Spread the Wealth" fallacy.

Rolling Eyes
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Rolling Eyes 12/11/09 - 03:53 pm
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Lobo, look at all the

Lobo, look at all the comments on here. Democrats as well as Republicans are standing together about his disgusting behavior. How could you possibly have overlooked that unless you did not wish to see it?

Just Another Day
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Just Another Day 12/11/09 - 04:08 pm
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Just Nuts4 says:"Another

Just Nuts4 says:"Another example of the AWM trying to put you know who in a bad light and the non minority will not take this lightly. I will chain myself to this condemned building and go on a hunger strike to show my disdain for humanity or untill they free Mickey Mouse from prison."

ripjones
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ripjones 12/11/09 - 04:15 pm
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Corgimom - I was thinking

Corgimom - I was thinking more about more current songs. You are right about ol' Hank...

SouthernPride
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SouthernPride 12/11/09 - 05:01 pm
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Good for her!

Good for her!

donnymack
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donnymack 12/11/09 - 05:20 pm
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I understand that she is

I understand that she is going back to the Chicago area to get on Obama's good side.

Tobie2
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Tobie2 12/11/09 - 05:47 pm
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Obama has a good side?

Obama has a good side?

pizzato
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pizzato 12/11/09 - 06:14 pm
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I never thought she was good

I never thought she was good looking until now that she's available,, money can hide ugly.

ustabe
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ustabe 12/11/09 - 07:09 pm
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Good for Jenny -- Now South

Good for Jenny -- Now South Carolina needs to follow her lead and divorce the jerk as well.

SusieQ
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SusieQ 12/11/09 - 10:51 pm
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Neither is he a handsome

Neither is he a handsome man!!!

justus4
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justus4 12/11/09 - 11:36 pm
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Now this is progress...she
Unpublished

Now this is progress...she also gotta go after that government pension and send him back to mamma & daddy. So why wasn't he impeached? Just another example of U know what.

my.voice
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my.voice 12/12/09 - 12:34 am
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I hate to mention this but

I hate to mention this but Jenny is not entirely a victim here. Their marriage wasn't 24 carat gold. Marriages fail for a number of reasons, and infidelity is usually a sign one partner isn't getting something they need (and that's not always sex).

I'm not defending Gov Sanford, because I believe his dereliction of duty should be cause enough for impeachment. I'm just saying Ms Sanford isn't the Lilly white person she wants the media to see. Let this family deal with this in peace. Those 4 boys are devastated.

corgimom
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corgimom 12/12/09 - 08:57 am
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my voice, great post!

my voice, great post!

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