Saturday, August 10, 2013


Mark Sanford disappearance and extramarital affair

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For six days in June 2009, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's whereabouts were unknown and there was media coverage of what was described as his disappearance. Subsequently the Governor reappeared and reported that he had been in Buenos Aires, Argentina with a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair. He stated that in 2001 he met and became friends with this woman and that they started having a sexual relationship in 2008. His wife became aware of the relationship in January 2009, and it was later revealed that two weeks prior to June 24 Sanford and his wife had begun a trial separation. The woman was later identified as Maria Belén Chapur, an Argentine journalist.
During the six days of absence, one of the excuses offered by Sanford's spokesperson was that Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail.[1] As a result, "hiking the Appalachian Trail" or "hiking the Appalachians" became an acceptable euphemism in the English language.[2]

Early history[edit | edit source]

The early history of the relationship between Chapur and Sanford was not publicly known until 2009. In 2001, Chapur and Sanford met at an open air dance in Uruguay. The couple met again at a New York bistro in 2004. Two other meetings in New York occurred later; one with Sanford accompanied by a spiritual advisor with the knowledge of his wife. According to reports from Sanford, the two engaged in sexual relations in 2008 during an economic development trip Sanford made to Argentina.[3]

Disappearance[edit | edit source]

From June 18 until June 24, 2009, the whereabouts of Governor Sanford were unknown to the public, including his wife and State Law Enforcement Division, which provides security for him. The absence of Governor Sanford was first reported by Jim Davenport of the Associated Press.[4][5] This six day disappearance garnered nationwide news coverage. His state and personal phones were turned off and he did not respond to phone or text messages. That prompted some to believe that he was missing and raised questions about who was acting as governor of South Carolina. His wife, Jenny Sanford, initially stated that she was not concerned and that he needed time away from their children to write something.[6] Sanford has apparently made similar disappearances in the past, although this was the longest.[7] After media speculation grew, Sanford's office on June 22 stated that he told them where he was going before he left and that he would be "difficult to reach."[8] Later that day, Sanford's spokesman, Joel Sawyer, told the press that Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail.[1]
Some South Carolina politicians voiced concerns about the governor's behavior. 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."[1] The Senate Minority Leader, Democrat John Land, also questioned the fact that Sanford was absent over the Father's Day weekend, arguing that "it's one thing for the boys to go off by themselves, but on Father's Day to leave your family behind? That's erratic."[6]
On June 23, spokesman Sawyer reported that Sanford had contacted his staff that morning—after apparently being out of touch with them for five days—and expressed surprise at all of the attention to his absence. Sawyer announced that the governor had decided to return to work the next day.[6]

Extramarital affair disclosed[edit | edit source]

On June 24, Sanford arrived at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, at 5:43 am on Delta Air Lines Flight 110 from Buenos Aires, Argentina.[9] He was met at the airport by only one reporter, The State's Gina Smith, who had received a tip that the governor was in Argentina and, on a "hunch", went to the Atlanta Airport to meet a flight arriving from Argentina.[10][11][12] He gave her a brief sit-down interview, wherein he claimed that he was alone for the entire trip, and did not give any other details than that he drove the coastline.[11] Sanford said that he had considered hiking the Appalachian trail, but at the last minute decided to do something "exotic".[11][13] Sanford redeemed an award ticket on Delta Air Lines Skymiles frequent flyer program.[14]
When asked why his staff said he was hiking, Sanford replied, "I don't know." He later said "in fairness to his staff," he had told them he might do such hiking. Sanford said he cut his trip short after his chief of staff, Scott English, told him his trip was gaining a lot of media attention and he needed to come back.[15] These events prompted Republican state senator Jake Knotts to comment, "Lies. Lies. Lies. That's all we get from his staff. That's all we get from his people. That's all we get from him."[13]
Several hours after arriving back in the United States, Sanford held a press conference, where he admitted that he had been unfaithful to his wife.[11][16] He told reporters that he had developed a relationship with an Argentinian woman that he had met "a little over eight years ago, very innocently,"[17] and that the relationship had turned romantic about a year before.[11] Jenny Sanford had been made aware of his infidelities in January 2009 after discovering a letter that Sanford had written to an Argentine woman.[18]
In emotional interviews with the Associated Press over two days, Mark Sanford said he would die "knowing that I had met my soul mate."[19] Sanford acknowledged secretly meeting Chapur five times in 2009, including two multi-night stays, one in New York City and one in the Hamptons, paying expenses in cash to avoid detection.[20] 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.[19]
Sanford and his wife had sought marriage counseling.[11] She said that she requested a trial separation about two weeks before his disappearance.[21] Governor Sanford also told reporters that months before his affair became public he had sought counsel at a controversial religious organization called The Family, of which he became a member when he was a Representative in Washington, D.C. from 1995 to 2001.[22] Two other leading Republican politicians who were members of The Family, Senator John Ensign and former Congressman Chip Pickering, also were caught engaging in extra-marital affairs around the same time frame as Governor Sanford.[23]

María Belén Chapur[edit | edit source]

On June 25, La Nación, a Buenos Aires newspaper, identified the Argentinian woman as María Belén Chapur (also reported as Maria Belen Shapur), a 43-year-old divorced mother of two sons who speaks four languages: Spanish, Portuguese, English, and Chinese. She lives in the upscale district of Palermo, Buenos Aires.[24] The State published details of e-mails between Sanford and a woman only identified as "Maria".[25] Chapur, in a statement made to C5N (in Buenos Aires), confirmed the relationship, but refused to discuss the matter in detail – pointing out that e-mails between her and Sanford made public days on June 24 were a result of having had her computer hacked.[26] The Wall Street Journal (6/26/09 p. A3) notes that she has avoided contact with reporters despite local media interest in Argentina. In news conferences, Sanford has called Chapur his soulmate.[27]
As the affair was reported, more background information on Chapur was reported in the American press. Chapur received a political science degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and had previously worked as a translator and correspondent in 2001 for Canal América 2, an Argentine television station, and filed television news reports for the station's New York City bureau in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.[28]
In May 2010, several months after the conclusion of proceedings against Sanford, he visited Chapur in Florida with the intention of rekindling their relationship.[29]

1 comment:

The 4th Sister said...

oh yes sanford how could

i forget this