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. Pop

    WoW the reason we are interested in this issue is that Republicans sell themselves as the family values party and imply that Democrats are not. You set yourself up as hypocrits.

    December 11, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  2. midwest liberal

    Good God, what took her so long?

    December 11, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. Irene Harney

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

    December 11, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. once bitten

    Good for Jenny. Wipe the slate clean and start anew. Leave that idiot in the dust with his life in ruins. Only 10% of infidels marry their affairees and of that only 25% survive a few years. Mark will go to hell in a handbasket, Jenny can only go up from here. I am sorry for her needless horrendous pain at the hands of someone in which she placed her most sacred trust.

    December 11, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Female Demacrat

    If he was happy at home, he would have never left. Doesn't anyone else see that she is at fault here too? A relationship takes 2 people who are committed to each other. We all know that men are simple beings. He left the relationship because she was no longer involved. I go out of my way to try and keep my husband happy and I get the same attention in return. I wish more people "saw the light."

    December 11, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. Fenarkleman

    Sanford – done. Edwards – done. Huckabee – done. Woods – done. All of these guys live in the south. Perhaps it's time to just give up on southern male politicians. Golfers, too. Funny pants and philandering rants. Let's move on.

    December 11, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Melissa

    It was just a matter of time. She should have done it earlier.

    December 11, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. beachgirl


    Jenny, you are a smart woman! domp the bartard!

    December 11, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. Snidely

    Bravo-at last a wife with class and guts!
    Hope Mrs. woods does likewise.

    December 11, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. Al

    She waited until he was cleared of possible impeachment. Very classy. It's sad nonetheless. Amazed at how many below have their facts wrong. You look foolish.

    December 11, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Wendy Crews

    My heart goes out to her and her children. Our politicians are so dishonest in both their personal and professional lives. He should have resigned, and our government officials are so corrupt, they have allowed him to stay in office. This country is going down the drain so fast. Now it is ok for a governor to have an affair with an Argentine woman and destroy his wife and family.

    December 11, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Joe

    Het Henry from WV, If Dem's morals are so much better than republicans why don't you tell that to Sen. Baucus' wife. All you petty people think one side is better than the other when we the people have the power to throw all of the bad ones out but instead we critisize one side for doing the same thing the other side did and we close are eyes.

    December 11, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. JIll//Colorful Colorado

    Once a cheater always a cheater....they always can sniff out the most rankest scank.

    December 11, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. Jennifer

    When you cheat on your wife/husband, you cheat on your kids too. The lives of their 4 children are now irrevocably changed for the worse. Jenny was left with no choice after his disgraceful behavior. Now her boys and their future grandchildren will have to suffer through two parents/grandparents in two different places along with their parents' new lovers to come who definately will not love them and probably won't like them. Quite possibly his new mistresses/wives to come will divert the childrens' inheritance to themselves, and whenever you bring in stepdads the possibility of abuse goes way up. These 4 boys will have a rocky, treacherous road ahead of them, all because of their neurotic, self-absorbed father. He doesn't deserve to be in office. He should be shut away with his lover to enjoy this "love" that he feels is so above everyone elses that it justifies betraying marriage vows, betraying children and betraying his constituents. Perhaps then he might realize that this sort of love is a merely a neurotic delusion, and she is no better than the woman he married, and their love is no different than oridinary people who fall in and out of love all the time. He has a monumental disappointment ahead of him. He has totally demolished his life.

    December 11, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. Nanny sad for the children, he is selfish.

    Why would someone find another attractive who is willing to cheat, and lie unless they too have the same ethics? Sanford and his girlfriend are selfish, egotistical people who needed attention at the expense of family. He obviously cares more about himself, a selfish man, than his wife and children. Many of us have an opportunity to have affairs, but we make a decision. Mine has been based on the two choices; my spouse and my children who I adore and someday grandchildren, OR a short fling with someone who has no scruples either, and if you have the affair will end up hating your children anyway, and probably eventually may have another affair on you if you end up together.

    December 11, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. Judy

    Thank you, Jenny, for teaching your boys that each man has to take responsibility for his role in the marriage, and that he has to take the consequences when he fails in his duties to his wife and children. Your children will be fine – they have the example of a strong, loving mother and will recognize and respect that kind of woman when they choose their spouses. Your husband may have thrown away his marriage, but you are teaching your boys how to save theirs in the future. Prayers and hugs for you all. Columbia, SC

    December 11, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. Enitan

    I wish people will stop politicing this divorce, i am a divorce woman with a child and it is indeed a sad and painful process.

    Lets call a spade a spade, her Republican member of the family husband cheated on her, he is a hyprocrite, considering the party he belongd to wants the world to think, they are morally better than the remainder of us that does not belong to the Republican party.

    What a joke, cheated, caught and whining to the world for forgiveness, he is no better than Tiger Wood.

    Good for her to divorce this sorry hypocrite man.

    From one divorce mother to another, i wish her well.

    December 11, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Chad

    She once blamed homosexuality for her marital problems because it (paraphrase) has destroyed the moral fabric of our country.
    No one should feel sorry for her after spewing such garbage.

    December 11, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Wanderer

    I do respect whatever that Jenny thinks is right for her. I am not casting stone at either Mr. or Mrs. Sanford, or anyone, but anyone who has acted or talked (moral talk or speech) like Mr. Sanford deserves the stone thrown back to them.

    December 11, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. Kaye

    To the disengenous Republicans who are incensed that this is a political story: LOOK IN THE MIRROR! You can blame yourselves and your appointed henchman, Ken Starr, for making this type of situation game for public discussion. You can also thank your governor. You put him there even though there were clear signs he should be re-elected. He seems to love discussing his adolescent crush with anyone that breathes. As for Mark Sanford's statement that he is committed to being the best father to his sons; he has, and continues to, fail miserably at that endeavor. He has very clearly chosen his mistress over his children. Lesson: if you do not want rocks thrown at your glass house then do not start the rock fight!

    December 11, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. Jason

    What about Senator Baucus? Where is the big story on him wanting a divorce from his wife and having an affair with his staff member? Oh, wait a minute, he is a Democrat and CNN doesn't cover any stories that might be embarrassing to Democrats.

    December 11, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  22. Josh- Rochester, MN

    It is sad this would be made into a Republican's Are Evil platform... In case you don't remeber, Billy Bob Clinton cheated on his wife.

    This just demonstrates that Republican women (e.g. Sanford's wife) are more strong willed then Democrat women (e.g. Hillary)

    December 11, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Karen in CO

    Go, Jenny, go! Even the most amicable divorces are hard on kids, but I'll bet the boys will get through this and grow into honorable men with integrity. All the best to her and the boys, and hopefully Dad will get his act together.

    December 11, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. jfc1

    I'm amazed that it took her *this* long. Her husband, who is the governor of South Carolina, goes sneaking off to various South American countries in the middle of the worst economic crisis in the states' history most likely, gets caught in the airport after a "nonofficial" trip, gets on network TV and then breaks down in tears talking about his love for some Argentinian beauty then has the utter nuts to say that he wants to make his marriage work and then asks her for permission to go back to South America to see this other woman?

    What planet was she on where she thought that her marriage had a chance in hell?

    December 11, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. HBO

    We want pre-nup!

    December 11, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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