December 11th, 2009
04:28 PM ET
4 years ago

Jenny Sanford files for divorce

(CNN) - Jenny Sanford, the wife of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, said Friday she is filing for divorce.

She said in a statement that "the dissolution of any marriage is a sad and painful process."

"This came after many unsuccessful efforts at reconciliation, yet I am still dedicated to keeping the process that lies ahead peaceful for our family," the statement said.

The Sanfords have lived apart since June, when the governor admitted to an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman.

The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the divorce filing.

(Updated with additional information and Gov. Sanford's reaction after the jump)

After Mark Sanford made a nationally televised admission about his affair, there was a flurry of calls for the governor to resign and multiple investigations by media organizations and the state Ethics Commission into whether Sanford tapped taxpayer resources for personal use.

In November, the South Carolina Ethics Commission charged Sanford with 37 violations of the state ethics code.

The commission will hear arguments involving those civil charges from Sanford's legal team early next year. The state attorney general is still evaluating the ethics complaint to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued.

Several Republican state legislators drafted an impeachment resolution against Sanford, accusing him of "dereliction of duty" for disappearing from the state last summer without informing his staff or the the lieutenant governor.

But that measure was essentially killed by a special House Judiciary Subcommittee on Wednesday, which instead recommended censuring the governor for his behavior.

Sanford has said repeatedly that he will not step down from the state's top office.

Jenny Sanford's full statement:

Statement from First Lady Jenny Sanford

Columbia, S.C. – December 11, 2009 – As so many of us know, the dissolution of any marriage is a sad and painful process. It is also a very personal and private one. Because Mark and I are public figures, we have naturally had less privacy with which to deal with our difficulties than do other couples. Indeed, I know it will soon become known so I choose to release this brief notice that I am now filing for divorce. This came after many unsuccessful efforts at reconciliation, yet I am still dedicated to keeping the process that lies ahead peaceful for our family.

I remain thankful to so many across this state and nation for their words of encouragement and prayers during this difficult time. Please know the boys and I are doing well and are blessed with the incredible support of friends and family and bolstered by our faith and the unfailing love of our God above.


Update: In response to the announcement, Gov. Sanford released a statement Friday taking "full responsibility for the moral failure that led us to this tragic point."


Columbia, S.C. – December 11, 2009 – With regard to Jenny's public statement, Governor Sanford had the following to say:

"While it is not the course I would have hoped for, or would choose, I want to take full responsibility for the moral failure that led us to this tragic point. Jenny is a great person, and has been a remarkable wife, mother and First Lady. She has been more than gracious these last six months and gone above and beyond in her patience and commitment to put the needs of others in front of her own. While our family structure may change, I know that we will both work earnestly to be the best mom and dad we can be to four of the finest boys on earth.

"I will join with her in asking the press to respect our shared desire for privacy as we quietly move forward. We respectively ask for your prayers."


Filed under: Jenny Sanford • Mark Sanford • Popular Posts
soundoff (402 Responses)
  1. Andrew

    It's a well known fact that the "moral" Red states have higher divorce rates than Blue, whether a janitor or a governor. Many marriages survive a sexual indescression, few survive an affair. Sanford was more foolish than Clinton with Lewinsky. I guess the next side show is John Ensign of the C Street gang, LOL.

    December 11, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. Smarternow

    I give her credit. Unlike Hillary who suffered humilitation with Bill's affairs with the whole world knowing just for politics and power. He cheated once he will do it again.

    You are wrong. My husband and I have been married 30+ plus years and I was the transgressor. We worked through it and I would never do that again. Maybe Hillary loved her husband enough to forgive him. I would really like to know if you are a religious person. My husband and I are not but we were able to get through that time in our marriage and grow stronger together. I hear of so many conservative Christians who use the scripture that allows for divorce in the case of adultery as the "out" in this type of situation. Isn't forgiveness a Christian trait any longer?

    December 11, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. Debby

    She is smart for dumping this bum. I can't believe this man isn't going to be impeached. He is pure scum.

    December 11, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Richie

    Best of luck to you, Jenny. Good riddance, Mark.

    December 11, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. SocialismBad

    Pretty hard to reconcile after the guy calls his mistress "his soulmate". Oh well... Things happen in personal relationships.

    December 11, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. Sick of it!!!

    For all of you lame brain people making this about politics get over it...Democrat or Republican does not matter when it comes to cheating...both parties have plenty of cheaters in them. Get off your political high horses and realize that not everything is about politics. A man cheated and got caught. I say good for her that she is thinking about herself and her children when her husband was only thinking about himself. All of you Republican this and Republican that people make me sick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your just mad because Obama is making a mockery of this country and you don't want to admit it so you have to bring down everyone else to make yourselves feel better. Get a life!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 11, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. Pee Wee

    Nice one CNN. This Peyton Place episode on your political ticker and nothing ANYWHERE on your site about the Russian missile test gone awry that provided for the light show for Obama in Oslo.

    Too bad that shield isn't going up. One and done.

    December 11, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. Matt

    "Republicans look at Marriage like they do a BMW .It's a really nice accessory but not a neccessity.Democrats,onthe under hand,value Marriage as an institution.Want Proof?Governor Sanford screwed around and his wife divorced him.Obviously she doesn't value their marriage.Sec. of State Clinton starting in her days as First Lady of Arkansas dealt with the same situation.Her solution ,keep the Marriage intact."

    Please tell me you're being facetious. That is the stupidest thing I've read in ages.

    December 11, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. Simon

    Good for her! The jerk doesn't deserve this lady.

    December 11, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. Kay in NJ

    As hard as it is for her to accept that her marriage is over I think she is sending the right message to her sons. Perhaps with this action she will raise four boys who understand the pain of adultery and will not follow in their father's footsteps. Good luck Mrs. Sanford.

    December 11, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. Jane/Seattle

    This lady knows better than anyone if this marriage is over! CNN: This should be in the Distraction File! Can we Feed the Children Now? Can we Save a Life? Goodwill toward Man is a terrible thing to Ignore!

    December 11, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. yuri

    Atta girl, Jenny! Kick him and bash him up where it hurts the most. This is the least you could do.

    December 11, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Angela J.

    I feel for Jenny as I am sure this was a very difficult decision for her to make. The other day when the press asked her estranged husband had he been in contact with his "former" mistress, he could not give a straight answer which means he still is, and may have helped her make this decision.
    I do not understand how men can take marriage vows and then take them so lightly later in life. With this now before him, it can only get worse from here. As for Jenny and the boys, she will fine and so will they. I hope and pray they grow up to be godly men who are committed to their wives and calling in their lives.
    Jenny, thank you for the example of exemplary grace through all of this.

    December 11, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. Jacque Bauer

    "Greg" – I am sure you feel the same way about Baucus and will be demanding his head, right???

    December 11, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. JanieTee

    The saddest thing with all these men who have been "caught" lately, is that none of them are really attractive and only have either money or power to attract younger women. If this was the average guy, no one would look twice at them.

    December 11, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Ronan

    Jenny! Can you take a call? It's Elin on line one

    December 11, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. sensible cape Coral Fl

    Way to go, Jenny !

    December 11, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Robert M. McGinn

    How soon we forget names like Chappaquidic, Oral Office,Reflection Pool.

    December 11, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. Pat

    Wow – like this is a Republican thing?

    Hate to rain on the parade for all you Obamacrats crying about how bad the rich people of America are but:

    She has all the money folks. Mrs. Sanford is a former investment banker (The kind that get all those bonuses that you all hate so much) She is also the heir to a multimillion $ company. Her grandfather inventor the electric handsaw and founded the Skill company.

    She is a very rich and powerful woman all you wealth haters.

    He is just you average dumb-ass or maybe slightly below average.

    December 11, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. MichaelTrost

    good for her

    scum bags deserve all that can be thrown at them

    December 11, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. Irene Harney

    What a say day for the children. I wish them well in private.

    December 11, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. American Lament

    Sadly, the modern day story of Love in America. Where do we go from here...

    December 11, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. Rick Shreiner

    While I admire Ms. Sanford for being strong enough to leave her husband, it must be said that this is a person who claims that homosexual marriage is responsible for the breakup of her marriage/family.
    Shortly after her husband, the "family values Gov" from S.C. admitted to having an affair, she stated that other people's [homosexuals] low moral standards led her husband astray.
    That is about as demented as one can get.

    December 11, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    @ Ted: Congratulations, you've just revealed to everyone reading these comments what YOUR problem apparently is? Project much?
    Oh, and on behalf of Ms. Sanford and women everywhere who have to deal with morons like you, seek professional help before you actually hurt someone in your pitiful world.

    December 11, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Kialeah

    He should have had the decency to leave first. If he truly loves his mistress, that's where he should go. He should have left months ago.

    December 11, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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