Ten Years on 10: The Mark Sanford Affair

By Drew Stewart - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Gov. Mark Sanford had a bright political future ahead of him.

At one point in time, his name was being floated as a potential vice presidential candidate to Sen. John McCain during the 2008 election.

His battles with the state legislature and President Barack Obama over federal stimulus dollars were raising eyebrows across the nation.

Many thought he was gearing up to make a run at the presidency in 2012. But something happened in June 2009.

The governor disappeared for five days. No one knew where he was. His staff eventually said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail to clear his head after losing the stimulus battle. But something still didn't seem right to some people. He quickly returned back to the state after questions began spiraling out of control.

He scheduled a news conference that people believed would finally clear the air about what really happened in the five days he went missing. No one thought he would ever drop the bomb that he did that day.

The governor wasn't at the Appalachian Trail, he was in Argentina, breaking up with a woman he later called his "soul mate."

It was a tearful confession to having an year-long affair with an Argentinean woman named Maria Belen Chapur.

But Sanford seemed to have such a good relationship with his wife, Jenny Sanford, the woman who helped engineer his two gubernatorial victories.

Sanford's political career went from bright, shining star to late night punchline in just one short afternoon.

Sanford's actions not only ruined his image nationwide, but made it all but impossible for him to accomplish anything in the last 16 months of his office, but probably not his removal.

Despite a large effort to have him impeached, a Judiciary subcommittee recommended he be censured instead.

Instead of standing by her man, first lady Jenny Sanford took their children and moved out of the governor's mansion and back to Sullivan's Island in August.

Mrs. Sanford just recently filed for divorce from the governor. Court records show a final hearing for the request to be granted is set for Feb. 26.

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