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. kathy

    She is better off without that lying, conniving jerk. He is obviously a sociopath who cares only about himself. She's a lovely lady and doesn't need to have the scumbag hanging around.

    December 11, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. ThinkAgain

    Merry Christmas, Mark!

    December 11, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. Hal Summers

    Good for her. Too many political wives stand by their philandering husbands in order to continue to live a life of power and privilege. This sends a strong message that adultery is unacceptable, period.

    December 11, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. why bother

    he really didn't have his heart in his marriage or in his govenorship

    divorce from the people and wife

    sounds like the rest of the GOP doesn't it?

    December 11, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. Good for Jenny

    Good for Jenny. While divorce is extremely difficult, she is absolutely doing the right thing for herself and her children.

    December 11, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  6. Daniel

    This is reflective of one intelligent and classy lady who most certainly deserves better in life...

    December 11, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. willowood

    You chose to make public comments amid all the chaos...creating more pain and chaos. Finally you have come to your senses. This is not a man of character or integrity... aka "politician."

    December 11, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. Donatella

    Its about time, she deserves much better.

    December 11, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. themoi

    Good for her! She gave it the old college try and is now ridding herself of excess, nasty baggage. More power to her now and in her future.. Now if the state would only give him the boot instead of letting him stay on which gives the impression they are condoning his behavior.

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

    Now Rick can reunite with his "soul mate" in Argentina,once again Rick can check out her tan lines. Of course Sanford is a "good" Bible thumping Christian. He just says a prayer and every sin is "washed" away like magic! Such a "family values" guy Rick is! Wink! wink!

    December 11, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  11. Josie

    Who can blame her. How can you really trust him again?

    December 11, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  12. Slim Country

    She made the right move for her family. I feel sorry for his wife and kids, they did nothing wrong, just loved him as a father figure and in return when it counted most, he fell back into his politician role as a person who sticks it to everyone around him for his own benefit. I hope she drills him in court to get what she deserves. Senator, great image you have ingrained into your kids heads. No wonder our country is in trouble, Washington DC represntatives on both sides of the house just do not work anymore for the American people. "Its all about me in DC, get what you can while the getting is good off the Americans working backs"

    December 11, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  13. Slim Country


    December 11, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. David Ahmanson

    This is so sad. I can't help but think it could have gone differently.

    Still it should shake up certain perceptions of conservatives, as I think this is the first time the wife of a sittling politician, a social conservative, no less, has gotten a divorce while her soon-to-be-ex is still in office.

    December 11, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. Mike

    I hope she soaks him for every penny he's got .....

    December 11, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. tim nyc

    good for her! and best of luck..divorce is horrible but sometimes neccessary...she has a lot of life to live– she deserves much better.

    December 11, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. Yougottaloveit

    Good for Jenny !!!! I applaud her...

    December 11, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  18. Shut3m Down

    It truly amazes me that we a political head that was caught with the same situation as Tiger, but who gets the worst of it all? I will let you answer! Crazy world we live in…

    December 11, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  19. Shana

    Good for her! She is educated and will do fine on her own. I'm sure it was heartbreaking to hear that her husband was not only a philanderer, but that he considered his mistress to be his soulmate. She was unknowingly living a lie.
    When men can keep their libidos under control, maybe they can get stuff done. Sanford, Gingrich, Woods, Spitzer, Craig, Clinton, Ensign, Duvall, Edwards, Foley, Vitter, Ryan, Condit, McGreevy, The Governator... You and your ilk should know that we don't want your family values.

    December 11, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. John E Lexington KY

    I feel sorry for this intelligent woman who married a hypocritical Republican nitwit. Maybe she's the same way but the galling hypocrisy of the GOP is more than many of us can stomach. Let him move to Argentina and let's never hear of him again, or her. If only he would run off with Palin so we'd not hear of her again either.

    December 11, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. barbara

    A PRIVATE matter? If it is then why is Jenny telling the world about her decision and even writing a book? I understand that raising kids is a 24/7 job and leave one exausted at the end of each and every day, BUT one must still find TIME for the relationship. I cant help but think that she wasnt able to do this or just plain quit. I feel bad for Jenny and the kids but I also feel like the Gov. was also let down.

    December 11, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. Leslie

    Good for her. TCads like him and Tiger will never change!

    December 11, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. J.Crobuzon

    Good news for Sanford – now he can move his soulmate into the Gov's mansion. Hey, it worked for Giuliani.

    December 11, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. Ann Mitchell

    Filing for divorce is a difficult and painful process, especially when a spouse commits such a violation. I applaud Mrs Sandord's decision. She has been through such a awful and an embarrassing revelation by her husband. Forgiving is one thing; but knowing that a spouse has commited such an act and isn't remorseful. Too many politicans theses days ask the public for understanding and forgiveness for their lustful affairs; but do not seek to change nor ask the most important person, their spouse for forgiveness! My thoughts go out to the Sandford children first, children should not have to suffer for adult mistakes and actions. The breakdown of the family is growing and sadly the number of divorces is reaching an all time high. I am speaking from experience!

    December 11, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. Enough!

    I am GLAD to FINALLY see at least ONE woman whose 'powerful political husband", who has cheated and LIED, has enough moxey not allow herself to be a puppet and take that kind of abuse!

    Maybe the 'consequences' of that kind of behavior will finally dawn on husbands who cheat!

    Jenny... YOU GO GIRL! I, for one, am VERY PROUD OF YOU!

    December 11, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
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