Friday, April 12, 2013

Southern Exposure: The True Character of Mark Sanford

by Sunnyjane

June 2009:  Oh look, Mark, you really CAN see the Appalachian Trail from Argentina!
(Photo of Gov. Mark Sanford and Maria Belen Chapur courtesy of
Memo to all American citizens: When your GOP governor ditches his -- or her -- security detail just before taking a trip south, you can be sure something nefarious is in the wind.

Hiking the Political Trail

Ha! I can have my cake and eat it, too!
Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Jenny Sullivan were married in 1989, even though she had doubts.  Well, the fact that Mark demanded that little portion about fidelity be removed from his wedding vows should have been sort of a clue, as far as I'm concerned.  However, Jenny says in her book, Staying True, that we were very young, we were in love … I questioned it, but I got past it.  (Big mistake, Jenny, huge mistake.)

With his academic credentials, Mark was able to achieve success in various financial businesses, including starting his own real estate firm in 1992.  However, while his wife was still in hospital recovering from the birth of their second child, Mark announced during one of his visits that he would be running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994.  This was news to Jenny, who had no idea that her husband had political ambitions on any kind.  There was no discussion, no What do you think, honey?  How would you feel about that?  What effect would that have on you and the children?  Do you have any concerns?  Can we talk about it when you and the baby have gotten settled in at home? 

Conservative, Cheap, and Classless

Not only did he just decide without discussion with his wife that he would run for a congressional seat, but Mark informed Jenny she'd be running his campaign -- because she was free labor.  She turned out to be an excellent campaign manager, and successfully directed his three victorious runs for the House.  While there, he was named the most fiscally conservative member of congress by the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank founded by -- you may have guessed it -- Charles Koch

Cheap?  You, dear readers, are invited to decide for yourselves.  During campaigns, he would pick up discarded index cards and turn them over to see if anything was written on the back.  If not, he would insist that they be reused by his own staff, saying, This is the way campaigns are lost.  He also made his staff reuse Post-It-Notes and would make them return office supplies he deemed too expensive.  Though a multimillionaire, like some other conservative lawmakers we could name, he slept on a futon in his congressional office because he was too tight-fisted to pay for a small apartment in the Washington Metropolitan  Area.  

He was as mean and stingy in his personal life.  Jenny told the story that on one gift-giving occasion, he drew her a picture of half a bicycle; on the next occasion, he gave her a picture of the other half and presented her with a $25 used bike.  While serving in Washington he once bought her a diamond necklace, which she loved and wore proudly.  However, he later took it away from her and returned it for a refund. 

When his father died, Sanford's brothers dug the grave on the family's farm while Mark built the casket in a shed.  The family then deposited their father in the hole under some trees and shoveled in the dirt.  Rest in Peace, Paw. 

Gawker also reports that Sanford and two congressional colleagues went to the movies.  Sanford offered to treat them to soft drinks from the theater's concession stand, but when he returned he had one large Coke and three straws.  No mention if they were bendy straws, but I doubt it.  (Didn't this sort of sharing go out with the 1950s?)

A former staffer said this about Mark Sanford: He'd pick up change from the street during an event … Even today, Sanford gets his hair cut at Supercuts -- and brings a coupon.

The Two-Timing Two-Term Governor 

Oath of Office: Yeah fine, just so I'm not swearing to any of that fidelity crap.
Sanford's self-imposed limit of three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives put him in the perfect position to run for governor of South Carolina in 2002, with the unpaid Jenny again at the campaign's helm. 

While his family sweated in the Governor's Mansion every day -- Mark would not allow them to turn on the air conditioning because it was too expensive -- the new governor was fighting his own Republican Party-controlled General Assembly over the state's budget.  (Just for edification, South Carolina's average July temperature is 92.7 degrees F (33.7 C) with humidity as high as 90%.  That's enough to melt your liver and turn your hair into an irate Brillo pad.)
We're having Bar-b-Que later, only $20 a plate.  Slaw is extra.

 In brief, Governor Sanford vetoed 106 budget bills in 2004; the House of Representatives (also controlled by the Republican Party) overrode 105 of the vetoes.  The following day, Mark brought two piglets to the lobby of the Capitol to protest their pork-barrel spending.  Oink

In mid-June 2006, he vetoed the Assembly's entire budget.  If both Houses had not overturned the veto and restored the original budget, the South Carolina government would have shut down on July 1.  By now, many SC citizens believed that Sanford's thrift was sending the state's economy into a rapid decline.

In one rather prescient incident, Sanford opposed the faith-based license plates South Carolina offers, remarking that It is my personal view that the largest proclamation of one's faith ought to be in how one lives his life.  Saaay what?

Off the Rails and on the Trails

Remember how you called Bill Clinton's behavior reprehensible

By the time he was inaugurated for his first term as governor, Sanford had already met Belen Chapur (which is the name she goes by) while on a trip to Uruguay.  He met her again at a New York bistro in 2004.  There were two other meetings in New York but -- according to Sanford himself -- it wasn't until 2008 that they began a sexual relationship.  (Yeah, riiiight.)

Jenny Sanford learned of her husband's affair in January 2009 after discovering a letter on his desk that he had written to Chapur.   She demanded that he end the, um, amorous congress. He agreed.  They tried counseling.  Didn't work.  He asked for permission to see Chapur so he could end the affair in person.  She said absolutely not.

In June, Mark told her he was going to take some time away from work to clear his mind in order to write something.  Well, he was not having his mind cleared, he was actually having his ashes hauled in ArgentinaHis wife had no idea where he was, and his staff finally put out the information that the governor was hiking the Appalachian Trail.   By the time he returned six days later, the cat was out of the bag.  The next day he held a press conference to fess up.  On the ride to the Capitol, he called Jenny to discuss strategy on how to handle the media.  [Major head-bang here.]  She reportedly told him, Whatever you do, don't talk about your heart.

He obviously ignored that sage advice because he spilled his guts and rambled on about Belen being the love of his life and his soul mate.  It was all too tawdry.  

The next day The State published emails between Sanford and Chapur, one which read 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.

On the same day, June 25, the governor was warned that Articles of Impeachment would be drawn up if he didn't resign.  He refused.  In the end, he was censured and fined $74,000.

Many believe that the impeachment threat was withdrawn because the state would have ended up with Lt. Governor Andre Bauer as governor.   Some of our readers might remember that in January 2010, Bauer compared poor people to stray animals when discussing ending government-funded school lunches.  My grandmother ... told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't... think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better.  A bit of Republican hypocrisy there, since Bauer himself benefited from free school lunches when he was a child.


When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package.
(John Ruskin, 1819 - 1900)

Currently, Mark Sanford is trying to get back to the U.S. House of Representatives, and will face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a special election on May 7.  There had been speculation that his former wife might run for that seat, but she later confirmed that she would not.  So, in typical Mark Sanford style, he asked her to run his campaign: We could put the team back together ... I could pay you this time.  Jenny, ahem, declined his generous  offer.  (After the steam stops coming out of your ears, feel free to fantasize on exactly what you would have told the slug.)

Mark Sanford's heart is blacker than a hog's snout during truffle-hunting season and colder than a well-digger's arse in January. 

Come on, South Carolina voters: Mark Sanford is wrong for your state and wrong for America.  



Many thanks to Moseyon, one of Politicalgates' terrific Australian friends, for encouraging me to write this post.  As always, I hope I have done the topic justice.

If some of our South Carolina friends -- such as Linda1961 and EbbtideMB -- care to offer up additional tidbits on Mark Sanford's character, we'd be delighted to hear them!   

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