Marshall Clement "Mark" Sanford, Jr. (born May 28, 1960) is an American politician from South Carolina, currently serving as the Governor of South Carolina. From 1995 to 2001, he served as the Republican representative in the United States House of Representatives for South Carolina's 1st congressional district, and was a staunch conservative with an independent streak. In 2002, he was elected the 115th Governor of South Carolina, defeating Democratic incumbent Jim Hodges and became notable for his contentious relationship with the South Carolina legislature.
Sanford was reelected Governor in 2006, campaigning against pork barrel spending. In office, notably, he made public statements in claiming he would reject stimulus funds for his state from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. He then later went back on this claim and did take the funds.
On June 24, 2009, Sanford resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, after he publicly revealed that he had had an extramarital affair with an Argentinian, María Belén Chapur. Sanford is also a real estate developer and Air Force Reserve captain.
From June 18 until June 24, 2009, the whereabouts of Governor Sanford were unknown to the public, including to his wife and State Law Enforcement Division, which provides security for him, garnering nationwide news coverage. Lieutenant Governor André Bauer announced that he could not "take lightly that his staff has not had communication with him for more than four days, and that no one, including his own family, knows his whereabouts."
Several hours after arriving back in the US, and upon learning that incriminating evidence was being swiftly mobilized against him by the press, Sanford held a conference, during which he admitted that he had been unfaithful to his wife. Sanford met Chapur at a dance in Uruguay in 2001 and admitted having sex with her starting in 2008. Sanford's wife had become aware of his infidelities around five months beforehand, and the two had sought marriage counseling.She said that she had requested a trial separation about two weeks before his disappearance.
On June 25, La Nación, a Buenos Aires newspaper, identified the Argentine woman as María Belén Chapur, a 43-year-old divorced mother of two with a University degree on International Affairs who lives in the upscale district of Palermo and works as a commodity broker for the international agricultural firm, Bunge y Born.The State published details of e-mails between Sanford and a woman only identified as "Maria".
The woman at the heart of the nation's newest Luv Gov scandal finally broke her silence.
Aides to the Republican governor explained his absence by saying he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
She issued a short statement to Buenos Aires' C5N TV station, tacitly admitting to the affair.
"Of my private life I won't speak, not now or in the future," the statement said. "It's been made public enough already, a fact that causes me terrible discomfort."
Chapur, a 41-year-old mother of two, said she had firm suspicions of who hacked into her e-mail and leaked steamy exchanges between her and the governor, who had been a rising star in the GOP.
The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C., obtained the e-mails in December.
"Since I don't have sufficient proof and live in a state of law, I'm obligated to keep their identity anonymous," her statement said. "I am not the judge of anyone; I leave all that in the hands of God."
Among the highlights of the e-mails:
Sanford wrote that, "I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night's light - but hey, that would be going into sexual details ..."
Sanford, a married father of four, described their relationship as a "hopelessly impossible situation of love." Sanford said he considered resigning but decided to stay on the job. "Resigning would be the easiest thing to do," he said on Sunday.
He also said he had decided to stay with his wife and family.