Ex-governor engaged 3 years after affair

2012-08-27 13:59
Mark Sanford (AP, File)

Mark Sanford (AP, File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Buenos Aires — Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford proposed marriage to his Argentine lover in the same way he has lived since their affair derailed his political career: Combining elements of secrecy with unfiltered expressions of love, and a touch of the weird as well.

Sanford confirmed on Sunday that he's engaged to Maria Belen Chapur, an intensely private divorced woman whose affair with the married Republican father of four children became tabloid news three years ago.

He proposed to her on Wednesday in the Bella Italia Grille, a high-end restaurant in the upscale Palermo neighborhood, around the corner from Chapur's luxury apartment, the restaurant's manager said on Sunday.

The couple have been regular customers at the restaurant, but this time they arrived separately. Sanford arrived first, and considered a table in the main dining room, but then turned it down as too noisy, said the restaurant manager, who gave his name only as Gustavo.

The manager said Sanford settled on a table for two near the door, and left the engagement ring in a small box with one of the waiters, telling him to give it to Chapur when she arrived.

Then he hid out in the bathroom for disabled guests, where cracking open the door provides a direct view of the table, and waited for more than an hour before she finally arrived, the manager said.

Tears of joy

The waiter then gave Chapur the box, telling her something about winning a prize. She opened it and seemed puzzled to see the ring until Sanford walked up, declared his love and asked her to marry him.

She quickly said yes and they kissed and cried, but no one else in the restaurant seemed to notice, the manager said.

"We're very discreet. They are, too. Nobody noticed. They really are private people," said the manager, who declined to give his last name and said protecting his clients was paramount.

Sanford, who was South Carolina's governor from 2003-2011, had been a rising star in the Republican party with presidential aspirations when he disappeared from the state for five days in 2009.

Reporters were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. But when he returned to South Carolina, Sanford admitted that he was instead in Argentina with Maria Belen Chapur, whom he later called his soul mate.

"I've been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with what started as a dear, dear friend from Argentina. It began very innocently as I suspect many of these things do, in just a casual e-mail back and forth in advice on one's life there and advice here. But here recently, over this last year, it developed into something much more than that," Sanford said then in explaining the affair.

'No man's land'

Sanford's wife, Jenny, divorced him, and his political career was derailed. The affair also prompted impeachment hearings over Sanford's use of state aircraft, campaign cash and first-class travel.

The former South Carolina congressman ended up paying $74 000 in ethics fines and reimbursed the state for the investigation and for travel and personal expenses.

While Sanford professed his love publicly for the woman in Argentina, Chapur never spoke out, issuing just one terse statement asking for privacy.

When asked about the engagement by The Associated Press on Sunday, Sanford simply vouched for the accuracy of a statement released earlier in the day.

"I'd love to talk but we're going to end up in no man's land," Sanford said. "The only comment I'll stand by is that there was a statement sent to CNN and I stand by its accuracy. I don't know anything beyond that."

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Chocolate can be fatal for dogs

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine that is similar to caffeine and is toxic to dogs at certain levels.



Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Do you know what you are feeding your dog?
Watch: Proof animals have souls
Would you clone your pet?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.