Former S.C. Gov. Sanford Engaged to Argentinean Girlfriend

Monday, 27 Aug 2012 11:07 AM

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Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is engaged to Maria Belen Chapur, an Argentinean he called his soul mate when his affair with her became public in 2009, CNN reported.

"Yes, we are engaged, and I’m both happy and excited for what that means,” Sanford, 52, said in a statement to CNN. “I have long expressed my feelings for her, she’s a wonderful person. My closest friends have met and love her, and I look forward to introducing her to still many more that have yet to do so."

Sanford, a Republican who served as governor from 2003-2011, was a rising political star before he vanished from the state in 2009, and reporters were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

He disappeared from June 18 until June 24, and neither his wife nor the State Law Enforcement Division, which provided security for him, knew his whereabouts. His absence garnered nationwide news coverage. When he reappeared, he admitted being in Argentina with a woman he later called his soul mate. The episode ended in divorce from his wife, Jenny, and derailed his political career.

He was later censured over the affair because of misuse of state travel funds. Sanford paid $74,000 in ethics fines and reimbursed the state for the investigation and for travel and personal expenses.


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