June 25th, 2009
01:20 PM ET
14 years ago

Sanford e-mail: I've 'crossed lines I never would have imagined'

(CNN) - As he was being considered for the vice presidency, the South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford told his mistress that the only political challenge that remained was "the top spot" – the presidency.

"There are but 50 governors in my country and outside of the top spot, this is as high as you can go in the area I have invested the last 15 years of my life," he wrote in e-mails obtained by The State newspaper. "- my getting here came as no small measure because I had that foundation of love and support so critical to getting up in the morning and feeling you could give and risk because you already had a full tank of love in the emotional bank account."

He also refers to their first meeting "in a wind swept somewhat open air dance spot in Punta del Este."

At the time of the messages between the GOP governor and a Buenos Aires resident named "Maria" - the summer of 2008 - Sanford was viewed as a possible contender to join Republican presidential candidate John McCain on the GOP ticket.

(Update: CNN's sources in Buenos Aires and in South Carolina have since identified the woman,
whose name was also widely reported in Argentine media, as Maria Belen Chapur.)

The State, which acquired the e-mails in December, told CNN that the governor's office had confirmed their authenticity on Wednesday. When contacted by CNN, a spokesman for the governor would neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the emails.

In the messages, Sanford expresses his strong feelings for Chapur, along with inner conflict over the circumstances of their affair. "As I mentioned in our last visit, while I did not need love fifteen years ago – as the battle scars of life and aging and politics have worn on this has become a real need of mine," he wrote.

"In all my life I have lived by a code of honor and at a variety of levels know I have crossed lines I would have never imagined," he added. "I wish I could wish it away, but this soul-mate feel I alluded too is real and in that regard I sure don't want to be the person complicating your life."

He said he had looked to the Bible for counsel, particularly to I Corinthians 13, which lays out the qualities that define true love. "In this regard it is action that goes well beyond the emotion of today or tomorrow and in this light I want to look for ways to show love in helping you to live a better – not more complicated life.

"…I better stop now least this really sound like the Thornbirds – wherein I was always upset with Richard Chamberlain for not dropping his ambitions and running into Maggie's arms," he said, referring to the story of lovers torn apart by duty and circumstance. "The bottom line is two fold, my heart wants me to get on a plane tonight and to be in your loving arms – my head is saying how do we put the Genie back in the bottle because I sure don't want to be encumbering you, or your options or your life."

John O'Connor, the newspaper reporter who wrote the story about the e-mails, told CNN Wednesday afternoon that The State did not confront Sanford with the messages in December because at the time "there was little way to tell that these were authentic e-mails."

O'Connor said that given the recent events surrounding Sanford, the paper then decided to approach the governor's office with the e-mails.

Sanford, who had been considered a potential candidate for the 2012 presidential campaign, admitted the affair Wednesday.

Filed under: Mark Sanford
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. cj

    No one knows why we fall in love , we usally do know why we stop being in love....personally I feel this relationship is not over , If she is that important to him , more than family, state , career,church, to fly off to Argentina this is not over. But that is a personal matter and is not what effects anyone in SC but himself and family.
    What is important here is that he should resign for leaving his state and his job and flying off into the sunset for any reason. He did not put his job as a elected official first and that is not what a clear thinking official does. So he should resign and let SC get on with buisness. And this will give him time to work on a broken marriage which with all the emails is doubtful , or pursue Maria and a life with her.
    What is not an option, is him staying in office!

    June 25, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Bleeding Hearts

    Correction to people on the blog that state that Bill Clinton was re-elected after his indiscretion with Monica Lewinsky

    Not true; Clinton’s rendezvous came to light during his 2nd term after the election. However, this is not about Clinton, this is about Gov. Sanford. By no means am I giving Clinton a free pass, quite the contrary.

    Clinton has no morals just like all of the other politicians before him and those that come after him that commit adultery.

    It’s time for Americans to stop sweeping these infractions under the rug and demand that our Leaders be held accountable for the position that the people have entrusted into their hands.

    June 25, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. mike,texas

    Where were the republicans outrage when the florida votes weren't counted.But they speak out on Iran votes.They want dems who cheat fired but not themselves.There policys destroyed America and now after 8 years,they blame the dems for the state of the economy.Its time this partys days are numbered.

    June 25, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  4. anuskita

    Is that guy serious? He, a public servant, goes AWOL on a tryst without a word to anybody (and courtesy of taxpayers money, I might add). He lies through his teeth until truth busts him in the kisser. Then he admits he has sinned and all is well. We are supposed to accept his smarmy apology, and is back to business as usual, right? Get real, man!

    June 25, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. Hannah Stevens

    Sanford was front and center when they were impeaching President Clinton. What a hypocrite. As was Newt Gingrich, who had an affair while his wife had cancer. He should resign immediately. How can he be trusted; lied to his staff, wife, the people of South Carolina, used public funds for his trysts.

    June 25, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  6. Diane

    Okay folks, now that the governor has been found it becomes a matter for his family and his state. So let's all back off and let his family and state handle it.

    June 25, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "how faithful can a man be to his Country or to his State when he can't even be faithful to his wife and 4 sons who love him more than anyone probably in this world"

    Most ridiculous nonsense I've ever heard...well, not ever...it's the same absolutely insane rhetoric we had to deal with when the GOP tried to impeach Clinton for getting some in the White House (no, idiots, the articles of impeachment weren't solely because of perjury). Are we supposed to believe someone irresponsibly waving their wang where it doesn't belong (or vice versa...women DO cheat) makes them a potential traitor? Really? Complete crap. It was irrelevant when Billy did it and it's irrelevant now. Focus on performance of his DUTIES AS GOVERNOR. This 90210-style "scandal"...no matter how hard the media is trying to create false links...has NOTHING to do with his competence as a governor (or lack thereof as the case may be).

    June 25, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    Once again, the party that claims "moral high ground" demonstrates it's blatant HYPOCRISY. So laughable, it's pathetic.

    June 25, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. donttreadonme

    The same folks who defend Clinton and JFK now attack Sanford. What Sanford did was wrong at least he is man enough to admit it. The hypocrisy is amazing.

    June 25, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. Proud of American

    To Mike, all the way at the top. Regarding Obama's firing of the inspector General, it was approved and signed off on by both democrats and republicans alike. If firing the Inspector General is to you an abuse of power, than I am sure you would agree Bush should have been impeached for lying to America, destroying our economy and killing many americans for a war that wasn't even. Your delusional, disgruntled and clearly off your rocker!

    June 25, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. Pat, CA

    I love how the left is all caught up on the "hypocricy" thing. If politicians are judged on "hypocricy," ALL of them should be removed from office. And that includes the hypocrite-in-chief, who decries racism yet sat in a racist church for 20 years!

    Misusing taxpayer money for personal pursuits is another matter - and that also applies to the one who takes his wife on expensive dates - who pays for that?

    June 25, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Sharon

    Wonder how many of the people now stating that this is a personal matter for the Republican govenor are Republicans who were howling at the gates for the scalp of Bill Clinton? HYPOCRICY is a big a moral sin as the adultery, perhaps more as the hypocritical behavior involves absolving someone for the same behavior one condemns in another. Adultery is a failure to be a grown up and tell the person to whom one is currently committed that feelings have changed and it's time to move on. This failure is often related to money, fame or political powerand the fear of losing one or all of those things. In a word, craven behavior.

    June 25, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. David

    Jim in SC June 25th, 2009 12:06 pm ET

    Mark Sanford, through his mistakes and despite his recent accounting of infidelity, is still a decent man, who I believe is more interested in reconciling his marriage than restoring his gubernatorial credibility or political future. Regardless of your/our position of his political welfare, remember that he came forward and publicly confessed his wrongdoing. It is easier to publically profess my faith than it is to confess my sins. Judge not, that ye be not judged. God deplores divorce but through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation can restore all and make them whole. I hope that we can give him an opportunity to restore his family life.
    I am a Christian but please lay off the Sunday school lesson. The issue isn't so much the sinner as it is the hypocracy. What makes this so bad is all too often we Christians have become so judgemental and all too often call for witch hunts against people who do not hold the same views. I well remember the judgements we rendered on Clinton- heard it every Sunday. Then, not to mention the lies we so – called Christians support, such as teaching that the President is the anti- Christ. Hurling remarks such as facsist, marxist, terrorist! Christianity in this country has become a blatant form of Pharaseeism.Even in Mrs. Stanford's statement, she acknowledges problems in the marraige but she then goes on to instruct using scripture. Its time that Christians, the Moral Majority, etc, look in the mirror and learn humility. One this is true...judge not lest ye be judged, and right now, alot of Christians are being judged with the same meausre of judgement they dispensed on others.

    June 25, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    @ pa., who said "I saw Fox Noise showed him as a democrat. "

    Yep...they put a "(D)" next to his name during the press conference. They did likewise with Craig and Foley when their scandals became the MSM's pet tabloid stories.

    June 25, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. carrie

    Willy Brown ....what are you talking about ??? I did not see any playing faves when Clinton , Edwards or Spitzer were caught playing Doctor.
    In fact I think the public pretty well along with the media did a fairly good job raking them over the coals. The most hateful comments about Sanford is coming from his own party. Many of the Dem pundits have said some very positive things about how they felt for the guy! The GOP pundits have been brutal!

    June 25, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. Dan

    Personally I don't care if Governor Sanford, or any other politician, has an affair. It's a personal matter between him and his family and in no way affects his ability to govern, except for the fact that he left the state with no leader for a week to be with his mistress. HOWEVER, when you preach "family values" and incorporate it into your campaign, and call for others who did the same thing to resign, you've become a hypocrite if you stay in office after this. As the saying goes "If you want to talk the talk you've got to walk the walk".

    June 25, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. Jeff

    I love it when a self-righteous Republican (and there are a lot of them) who condems gay marriage, gay unions, etc., gets caught in a sex scandal. Way to go Mr. Family Values. Wasn't Eliot Spitzer a huge anti-prostitution person? Wasn't Rush Limbaugh a huge anti-drug person? Didn't Newt serve his wife divorce papers while she was recovering in the hospital from cancer? What a bunch of skunks.

    June 25, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    @ Pat, CA, who said "Misusing taxpayer money for personal pursuits is another matter — and that also applies to the one who takes his wife on expensive dates — who pays for that?"

    Sorry dude...the POTUS has no choice but to travel using AF1 and be accompanied by a crazy security detail. Are you saying that for the next 4 years we expect him not to take his wife out to do anything whatsoever because it incurs taxpayer expense? No Broadway shows...no dinners at nice restaurants...no nothing...all becaue he's POTUS? Do you smoke crack by chance?

    June 25, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. Island girl

    Pat in California: That's right, how dare the President of the United States take his wife out (like any normal person) and allow the media to have a field day in the name of transparency. He should take another woman into the cumulus clouds (seventh heaven obscurity) just like your idol did.

    June 25, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. Earl

    God I really love republicans. They have this affinity for the ability of sticking their foot in their mouth. I'm sure he was on the impeachment band wagon against the Clintons. Go republicans, you are all the moral majority! Not!

    June 25, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. Bill

    When Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Bill Clinton and John Edwards, LIED to their Wives- No Body died or Injured.
    When Bush and Cheney Lied about WMDs of Iraq.- 4,300 US Troops died – 45,000 US Troops got injured -100,000 Iraqis civilians died.
    We must Forgive Mark Sanford, if we have Forgiven Bush and Cheney.

    June 25, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. EBJ

    I don't know what is funnier..this situation in South Carolina or all the far right folks covering for this guy and somehow trying to switch the topic to President Obama.

    June 25, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  23. Heather in Seattle

    I really could care less about a Governor cheating on his wife; that is the business of his family and does not pertain to his ability to function as a governor. The big deal is that he LEFT his post at the leader of a state; just disappered. To me this is the big deal about the whole thing. As far as I am concerned this man is not fit to be the head of a state. Even in the private sector if you just decided to disappear from your job for a week would you have a job when you came back? Probably not!

    June 25, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Gov Sanford was one of those who called for "Clinton's head" when he did what he did while in office, now that the shoe's on the other foot he probably wishes he didn't live in a glass house. How the hell can a chief executive of a state just take off and not leave anyone in charge while he's gone? Putting himself before his sworn duty?

    June 25, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  25. Bev - NYC

    Gotta love all this GOP angst, and their phony give the family some time to work things out. I don't know when I've laughed harder, listening to Limbaugh lament that Sandford could have been our Republican JFK. Or listening to Olbermann read Sanford's e-mails like some harlequin romance novel with Fabio on the cover.

    Affair aside, the guy deserted his job for 5 days, lied about his whereabouts, didn't properly turn over the state to the Lieutenant Gov, used the states vehicle and money to see his mistress and he should keep his job? Obviously he wasn't thinking about the people of SC or his children on Father's Day. Knowing that his kids may be having a tough time dealing with their parents separation wasn't his place with them rather that running around like a teenager in heat?
    It does not take 5 days to break up with anyone, the relationship could have ended like it began by e-mail.

    June 25, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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