Mark Sanford is a Republican who was a real estate developer and medical administration officer in the Air Force Reserve. He was elected to the governor’s office in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.
In 2009, he told his staff that he was going to hike the Appalachian Trail. However, it was later discovered that he had flown down to Argentina to have an extramarital affair with María Belén Chapur. It was also discovered that Sanford had improperly used state travel funds to pay for his long distance adultery. He was censured by the South Carolina General Assembly and resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Sanford’s wife Jenny, took the couple’s four sons and left the governor’s mansion. In December 2009, she filed for divorce which was finalized in March of 2010. Instead of trying to repair and save his marriage, Sanford now says that he is engaged to his Argentina lover.
Sanford managed to survive two impeachment attempts that were surprisingly blocked by Democrats. In January of 2011, he completed his second term as governor. One would think that his political career was over after cheating on his wife, lying to his staff and others and then misusing state funds to pay for his adulterous trips to Argentina.
However, a series of events have re-launched Sanford’s career. Last year, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint from South Carolina resigned to take the leadership of the Heritage Foundation. Gov. Nikki Haley then appointed Rep. Tim Scott to fill DeMint’s senate seat. This in turn set up a special election to fill Scott’s vacated House seat.
Mark Sanford decided to run for Scott’s vacated seat and despite the Democrats spending $1 million for their candidate, the people of South Carolina’s 1st District handily elected him back into office. Sanford defeated his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Colbert Busch by a 54% to 45% margin.
While I’m glad that the GOP retained the seat, I find it hard to believe that people would place their trust in man who has demonstrated that he cares nothing for sacred trusts or vows. He made vows to his wife who trusted him and he shattered them. He made a vow to the people of South Carolina to uphold the law and yet broke that oath when he lied and stole.
Now the people of South Carolina are again placing their trust in Mark Sanford. When I saw the election results and how handily he won the special election, the first thing that came to mind was the line from Forest Gump:
“Stupid is as stupid does.”
The question now is for how long Sanford will be able to hold and honor the people’s trust that they have put in him or will history repeat itself and he falls from grace a second time. Guess we’ll just have to wait, watch and see what happens.