COLUMBIA, S.C. — Life has changed for the players in the Sanford drama over the past 12 months. A look at where they are now.
Gov. Mark Sanford
Last year: A week of intrigue began with questions about the governor's whereabouts, climaxed with a State newspaper reporter meeting Sanford at the airport returning from Argentina and ended with a tearful confession of an extramarital affair. In the space of a week Sanford’s possible national political ambitions were wrecked and calls for his removal from office grew louder. Sanford resisted the calls to resign. The S.C. House mounted an effort to have Sanford impeached and the S.C. Ethics Commission issued 37 ethics charges against Sanford over his disclosure of private plane trips and his handling of campaign money. The governor agreed to pay a fine rather than fight the charges.
This year: Sanford has rebounded as well as could be expected considering the cloud under which he has had to operate. Media attention on his personal life has largely disappeared. Sanford’s choice for governor, Lexington Rep. Nikki Haley, has won the party’s nomination partly on the political machine he helped build. The Boeing announcement and his most successful legislative session yet in controlling state spending are two highlights of this two-terms as governor. Sanford is poised to leave office this January on a high note politically. Personally, the now divorced governor admitted recently to pursuing a relationship with his Argentine lover.
Last year: The first lady was privately dealing with a philandering spouse. Then on June 25, 2009 she suffered the humiliation of having her private marital difficulties become public. In a tearful interview with The Associated Press, Gov. Mark Sanford called the Argentine women with whom he’d been having an affair is soulmate. Jenny Sanford pledged to work with Gov. Sanford on the couple’s marriage. She moved out of the Governor’s Mansion with the couple’s four children less than two months later. She eventually filed for divorce.
This year: Now divorced Jenny Sanford has appearances on “The View” and “Larry King Live” under her belt and has been featured in Vanity Fair and Newsweek magazines. She is a best-selling author and she is becoming a political kingmaker, having given Haley’s gubernatorial campaign a boost with a critical endorsement and links to big-money donors. Jenny Sanford wrote in unsparing detail about her marriage and its difficulties and her book, “Staying True,” and it made her a media force. She has also begun dating again after the Sanfords’ divorce became final in February.
Maria Belen Chapur
Last year: The world was pursuing the woman at the center of the Sanfords’ marital difficulties. Chapur, though, avoided the media and never spoke directly to reporters. South Carolinians following the drama learned Chapur, a divorced mother of two, has worked in the United States as a reporter and an interpreter.
This year: Chapur has kept her low profile.
Last year: The head of the S.C. Law Enforcement Division, who was appointed by Sanford, was put on the hot-seat immediately following Sanford’s confession. When Sanford went missing, the media went to Lloyd to learn his whereabouts. SLED is responsible for the governor’s security. Lloyd was also responsible for looking into whether Sanford violated any criminal laws by spending tax money on his travels in which he carried on his extramarital affair. Lloyd determined there was no evidence of a crime after reviewing five Sanford trips in which he’d visited with Chapur.
This year: Any questions about Mark Sanford’s whereabouts still go to Lloyd.
Last year: Sawyer was Sanford’s press secretary. He famously told the media the governor was hiking the Appalachian Trial. Sawyer had been mislead about the governor’s whereabouts. He resigned his position less than two months after Sanford’s admission.
This year: Sawyer is now serving as executive director of the S.C. Republican Party.
Warren “Cubby” Culbertson
Last year: Culbertson was running a series of religious counseling sessions for couples at the Governor’s Mansion. He was counseling the Sanfords, and he once traveled to New York with Mark Sanford to meet Chapur and to help Sanford end his extramarital affair.
This year: The Sanfords are now divorced, meaning its unlikely Culbertson is continuing his role of family counselor for the Sanfords.
Sen. Jake Knotts
Last year: Knotts, a frequent Sanford critic, issued a statement raising questions about Sanford’s absence, asking who is in charge of the executive branch of S.C. government. Knotts’ statement got prompted national media attention focused on the governor’s whereabouts.
This year: Knotts has become part of a new national story. He called Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and President Obama “raghead,” for which he was censured by the Lexington County Republican Party.