- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) | South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford says she feels sorry for her husband’s Argentine lover and thinks the philandering governor’s affair is almost like an addiction to alcohol or pornography.

The 47-year-old first lady told Vogue magazine she concentrates on forgiveness because she doesn’t want to become angry or bitter. She said reconciling will be hard, following Gov. Mark Sanford’s admission of the affair and of crossing lines with other women.

The governor disappeared for nearly a week in late June to see his lover, Maria Belen Chapur. He left his staff, his wife and the rest of the state in the dark about his whereabouts. Initially, his office told reporters that Mr. Sanford was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

“Now I think it’s up to my husband to do the soul-searching to see if he wants to stay married. The ball is in his court,” Mrs. Sanford said in this month’s issue of Vogue.

But the July 9 interview at the Sanfords’ Sullivans Island home was before the couple took a weeklong vacation to work on their marriage and before the family’s two-week vacation in Europe.

On Aug. 7, two days after their return from abroad, Mrs. Sanford moved out of the official governor’s residence with their four sons. Reporters and photographers looked on as she and several other women carted out bags of clothes, a suitcase and armloads of suits and dresses on hangers. Mrs. Sanford said she was heading to Sullivans Island for the upcoming school year.

In her first interview after her husband publicly disclosed the affair, Mrs. Sanford told the Associated Press she learned about the tryst in January when she came across a copy of a letter her husband wrote his mistress. In later months, her husband asked several times to visit Mrs. Chapur, requests she denied.

She told Vogue that her husband’s comments to the AP that he crossed lines with other women were “punches to the gut.”

“It became clear to me that he was just obsessed with going to see this woman. I have learned that these affairs are almost like an addiction to alcohol or pornography. They just can’t break away from them,” she told Vogue.

“I also feel sorry for the other woman. I am sure she is a fine person. It can’t be fun for her, though I do sometimes question her judgment. … But I can’t go there too much. All I can do is pray for her because she made some poor choices. Mark made some poor choices. A lot of people were brought down by this, and I am sure that is not what they wanted.”

Meanwhile, the governor is facing questions about his use of state aircraft for personal and political trips, and his flights on commercial airlines. South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, a fellow Republican who has said he will run for governor in 2010, asked the state Ethics Commission to investigate the governor’s travel.

Under law, the commission can’t say whether an investigation is under way unless the person accused of violating the law waives confidentiality.

Sanford spokesman Ben Fox said the governor’s office has received no information from the commission and it’s premature to comment on whether Mr. Sanford would make the process public.

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