UPDATED: Sanford says mistress is soul mate

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 4:52 PM
Last updated 8:43 PM

COLUMBIA — South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, already struggling to salvage his family and his political career after admission of a scandalous affair, added explosive details today, including more visits with the mistress he calls his "soul mate" and additional women in his past.

The once-promising presidential prospect said he is committed to reconciling with his wife but professed to The Associated Press his continued love for the Argentine woman at the center of the firestorm that gutted his political future.

In emotional interviews with the AP over two days, he said he would die "knowing that I had met my soul mate."

Sanford also said that he "crossed the lines" with a handful of other women during 20 years of marriage, but not as far as he did with his mistress.

"There were a handful of instances wherein I crossed the lines I shouldn't have crossed as a married man, but never crossed the ultimate line," he said.

Sanford insisted his relationship with Maria Belen Chapur, whom he met at an open air dance spot in Uruguay eight years ago, was more than just sex.

"This was a whole lot more than a simple affair; this was a love story," Sanford said. "A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."

Even with the latest revelations, Sanford maintains he is fit to govern and has no plans to resign.

"I've been able to do my job and in fact excel at it," Sanford said, while acknowledging he is a spectator at his "own political funeral."

During more than three hours of interviews over two days at his Statehouse office, Sanford said he is trying to fall back in love with his wife, Jenny, even as he grapples with his deep feelings for Chapur.

"I owe it too much to my boys and to the last 20 years with Jenny to not try this larger walk of faith," he said.

Sanford detailed more encounters with his mistress than he had disclosed during a rambling, emotional press conference last week. The new revelations led the state attorney general to launch an investigation of Sanford's travels, and some legislators to repeat calls for him to step down.

He delivered a personal check late today for nearly $3,000 to reimburse the state for a 2008 state-funded trip to Argentina where he visited Chapur, and he insists no public money was used for other meetings with her.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, who would preside over any forced ouster of the governor by the Republican-controlled Legislature, said it's premature to heed calls from those in his own party to remove Sanford.

"I want to see what the investigation finds before I'm willing to discuss that topic," said Harrell, a Charleston Republican.

Sanford, at times crying and unabashedly emotional, acknowledged in the AP interview that he had casual encounters with other women while he was married but before he met Chapur. They took place during trips outside the country to "blow off steam" with male friends.

"What I would say is that I've never had sex with another woman. Have I done stupid? I have. You know you meet someone. You dance with them. You go to a place where you probably shouldn't have gone," Sanford said, declining to discuss details. But he said those encounters were nothing like his relationship with Chapur.

"If you're a married guy at the end of the day you shouldn't be dancing with somebody else. So anyway, without wandering into that field we'll just say that I let my guard down in all senses of the word without ever crossing the line that I crossed with this situation."

Sanford also detailed more visits with Chapur, including an encounter that he described as a failed attempt at a farewell meeting in New York this past winter, chaperoned by a spiritual adviser and sanctioned by his wife soon after she found out about the affair.

But he saw Chapur again, this time over Father's Day weekend and after his wife expressly told him not to, leaving the country without telling his staff and instead leading them to believe he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

By the time he returned to a puzzled public, staff and family, his public image and emotional state had unraveled. He admitted the affair at a news conference televised nationally, but at the time said there were only four meetings with his mistress.

Sanford told the AP he saw Chapur five times over the past year, including two romantic, multi-night stays with her in New York — one in Manhattan, one in the Hamptons, both paid for in cash so no one would know — before they met in the city again with the intention of breaking up.

He said he saw her two other times before that, including their first meeting.

"There was some kind of connection from the very beginning," he said, though neither that first encounter nor a 2004 coffee date in New York during the Republican National Convention were romantic.

Their relationship turned physical, he said, during a government trip to Brazil and Argentina in June 2008, and when he returned the e-mails that had started years earlier began to reflect anguish over what they had done.

"Now I am frightened," he told the AP, describing his state of mind at the time. "It was before safe. But now it's not safe. We gotta put the genie back in the bottle."

Critics have charged that Sanford should resign or be impeached because he was unreachable during the latest Argentina trip and that no one was in charge of state government during his secret absence.

In the interview, he said he first became aware that officials were looking for him the evening of June 22 — four days after his departure for Argentina — when he checked his cell phone voice mail.

"I was reached ultimately on Monday evening," he said. "I was contacted and called (chief of staff) Scott (English) back that Tuesday morning." Sanford said he then changed his flight to return to South Carolina that evening.

He and Jenny, parents of four sons, say they are trying to reconcile their marriage but have not shared the same house for several weeks. Jenny Sanford found out about the relationship in January when she discovered a letter the governor had written to his mistress. She did not immediately return messages seeking comment today and was not at their coastal home on Sullivans Island.



What drugs is this clown on?????


The Gov. has done enough damage as it is. If he wants to prove himself fit to finish his term, he should be quiet and get back to work. I like his politics, but the more he talks, the more I wish he would just go away.


"Blow off steam", indeed. That's just a euphemism for going to a strip club or a brothel, "in search of..." - especially when in a foreign country, alone or "with (unnamed) male friends" (who are they, Mark?)... This lecherous adulterer has no concept of right and wrong. SC needs to dispose of him as a public official before he brings more harm to the state. He has nullified his authority.


impeach the [filtered word]


It would be very hard to repair this marriage, but it could be done if he would just start making some right choices. Just the fact that his wife is willing to try to do that, should show him who the REAL love of his life should be. The other woman is just a fantasy, she didn't do the WORK of loving him, which means being there at the end of the day, taking care of his children, running the minutia of his household, and picking up the slack while he was out running around on her, while she had to keep making excuses for his behavior and absences. Love is a choice. He keeps making the wrong choices. If he has a conscience it was shut down for a long time. He better wake up before its too late and he gets stuck in a nightmare of his own design.


If a woman is having an affair with a married man, it has nothing to do with their souls, except their destruction. If they are soulmates they both need to reevaluate the status of their souls and make some changes and repairs. Soulmates are the persons that choose the right paths and want you to come along with them; not the ones that seduce you into the wrong paths.


My wife's ex-husband left her for his soul mate......he's on soul-mate #3. How lucky....most people never find one. Sanford is an idiot that harms his family every time he opens his mouth. Jenny.......leave him. Go be with your boys and the right man will come along


I have read the above story twice.......and I feel like I need a bath. Mark Sanford must go!


That marriage is over and so is his political career. Someone close to him, please tell him to shut up. "Farewell meeting" oh yeah, sure. Just stop. No meetings, no calls, no nothing. How many farewell meetings do they need? His wife needs to kick him to the curb.

Just My Opinion

Jenny, remember this...being alone is sometimes better than being with someone who is "not there". I wish Sanford would just shut up. Does he really think that people will be stupid enough to change their opinion of him simply because he says his is a true love story??? Just shup up and move on.


Can this guy NOT shut up? Does he NOT have an attorney to advise him to STOP talking? The first press conference was a disaster and he is just throwing fuel on the fire. I really now feel sorry for his wife and kids.


this makes me want to hurl. he needs to shut up. this isn't doing anyone (the wife and kids) any good to hear this garbage. the wife should toss him.

well said, baroness.


D..., brother. I dont believe I would have told that!!!!!!!!!!


PT, you are noticeably absent.


Damn, not all the Repubs are into guys!


Humble@8:58pm good post.I'm with all the people who are saying he needs to Just Shut Up.


Comin' to ya on a dusty road,
Good lovin' I got a truck load,
And when you get it you got something,
So don't worry cause I'm coming,I'm your soul mate, I'm your soul mate.


Does he think it's honorable to say "he is trying to fall in love with his wife again" Please...... if you care at all, forget love - leave that woman alone because every time you open your mouth, you completely disrespect her. This guy is sick and lacks all respect for himself, let alone his wife, soul mate or anyone else.


shut up and resign already.


Thank you for your 9:33am mizzkim123


This man is unstable. It's quite sad. He needs a little help.

Were you Spotted?