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. rita

    She is smarter, and with 10 times the amount of courage than the South Carolina legislature or the Republican constituents who seem only to see fault with members of other groups, organizations and party affiliations. Bless her heart.

    December 11, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. mary

    Forgiveness is the very hardest thing, yet we all ask God to forgive us.

    December 11, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. MaryAnne

    Let's all jerk a tear for Mark.....not!

    December 11, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Jay

    I so admire this woman. She refuses to stand with a man who has no respect for marriage or family. She is strong and can hold her own, not haveing to depend on him for her self worth or financial stability. She can walk away with her dignity intact. I wish her and
    the boys the blessing and success they deserve.

    December 11, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. Robert

    About time- no women should have to turn the other cheek to save face for a cheating spouse. Mrs. Jenny I wish you the best of luck- maybe you would make a better Govener then your soon to be ex-husband.

    December 11, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. S in Mo

    Isn't divorce against the Bible?

    December 11, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Jerry

    Congrats , it proves she can find another man unlike that democrat women i will not mention,

    December 11, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. Nancie

    Men like Mark Sanford can always sniff out their next rotton piece.

    December 11, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. JO

    You go Jenny! It's time women stop "standing by their men" and let them get away with cheating. These men should have the guts to leave – get divorced – then move on. Instead they think they can have it all.

    December 11, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. pam

    I like Jenny better and better. She refuses to be a political doormat for her husband.

    December 11, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. Bob Dog

    Jenny Sanford for president!!!

    Go no further if you need an example of a strong, intelligent, tough as nails woman.

    If I was starting an investment banking firm, I'd beg her to come on board, and tell her to name her own salary.

    She's only made one mistake in her life, and now that she is on the path to fixing that, the sky is the limit for this remarkable woman.

    December 11, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. JA/TN

    Now he need to man up and step down as governor

    December 11, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. Carol

    If there is any way to reconcile and Jenny still loves this man, she should try to hold off on a divorce. If it is solely up to Mark to distance himself from his mistress and truly commit himself again to their marriage and he wants to make that committment, then try! It can be a heartbreaking aftermath to a tragic infidelity. It will be a very stressful and lonely time until she can break the emotional bond she has had in this marriage. The boys are young, so she will continue to have contact with Mark. This healing will take years if the divorce goes through. I have been there. It is painful.

    December 11, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  14. julie

    go jenny

    December 11, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. Jaxs

    He'll regret what he's done....we all do, but never admit it. If we could only turn back time.

    December 11, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Good for her

    I believe if he had not said SOULMATE they could have salvage their marriage, but when he said SOULMATE that killed everything inside her for him. I wish Jenny all the best.

    December 11, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. Zohar Freiberg

    Family values...

    December 11, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. db

    I realize that Mark Sanford is a governor, but honestly, what does this have to do with politics?

    December 11, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  19. Wesley Pittman

    Mrs. Jenny Sanford is doing more harm than she is doing good for her, the boys, her husband, and the people who enjoy being around her. There is no reason for her to get a divorce. She needs to forgive her husband and then come back to him. He has done all he needs to do, now it is up to her to reconcile herself to the fact that all is forgiven, it is under the blood of Jesus Christ who has forgiven the Governor of all of his sins.

    December 11, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  20. What a Joke

    Divorce is painful and no one is a winner, particularly the kids. I applaud Mrs. Sanford for showing strength and courage. I'm sure she will continue to put her boys first and have more class than her husband. Elin take note.

    December 11, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  21. Alex in Wisconsin

    Well I now feel that there is right in the world. People need to be reminded that actions have consequences. The SC Legislators failed to uphold accountability in governance, but Jenny Sanford is upholding accountability in marriage.

    On a less somber note, i expect that Mark Sanford might be Hiking the Ol' Appalachian Trail down to Argentina in the months to come. No point in being separate from his soulmate now that he is on the road back to bachelorhood.

    December 11, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  22. Just Me

    Good for her! Once trust is gone in a relationship, there is nothing left but the dirty dishes in the sink. No one can accuse Jenny of not trying to save her mariage. But you cannot save a marriage when the other party's "soulmate" is in Argentina. She did the best thing for herself and their boys by sticking to her principles and faith.

    She will now be able to look her sons in the eyes and have their respect, and they in turn will no doubt look to her with pride knowing that she did not allow their father to treat her like a doormat. They will be better men tomorrow because of her decison, and probably more respectful, faithful, and decent husbands when their time comes. Kudos to you Jenny. Wish you well. I don't know u personally, but as a man who value honesty and trust in a relationship, I applaud you. There are more fish in the sea. You are a hell of a fishing rod. I am certain, another fish will bite should you choose to go fishing.

    December 11, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  23. larrywi

    Sorry for the shame this has brought to your family, but I for one can understand your decision.

    December 11, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. bdiva

    Way to go Jenny! Let Sanford go be with his "SOULMATE" as he publicly said! Did he really think his wife wants him after declaring the “other” woman was his soulmate? ROFL! I would never accept 2nd class citizenship in my own marriage. Sanford wants to reconcile because visions of child support and alimony payments are dancing in his head! LOL! Now Jenny will be free to possibly find her true SOULMATE ! Woohoo!

    December 11, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  25. Bob of Lompoc

    Should be pretty easy to fill out the Divorce form under category "Reasons For Divorce"? BECAUSE HE IS STUPID!

    December 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
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