Sanford, who was South Carolina’s governor from 2003-2011, had been a rising star in the Republican party with presidential aspirations when he disappeared from the state for five days in 2009. Reporters were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. But when he returned to South Carolina, Sanford admitted that he was instead in Argentina with Maria Belen Chapur, whom he later called his soul mate.
“I’ve been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with what started as a dear, dear friend from Argentina. It began very innocently as I suspect many of these things do, in just a casual email back and forth in advice on one’s life there and advice here. But here recently, over this last year, it developed into something much more than that,” Sanford said then in explaining the affair.
Sanford’s wife, Jenny, divorced him, and his political career was derailed. The affair also prompted impeachment hearings over Sanford’s use of state planes, campaign cash and first-class travel. The former South Carolina congressman ended up paying $74,000 in ethics fines and reimbursed the state for the investigation and for travel and personal expenses.
While Sanford professed his love publicly for the woman in Argentina, Chapur never spoke out, issuing just one terse statement asking for privacy.
When asked about the engagement by The Associated Press on Sunday, Sanford simply vouched for the accuracy of a statement released earlier in the day.
“I’d love to talk but we’re going to end up in no man’s land,” Sanford told the AP. “The only comment I’ll stand by is that there was a statement sent to CNN and I stand by its accuracy. I don’t know anything beyond that.”
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