- Associated Press - Monday, August 27, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says he’s engaged to the Argentine woman he secretly left the state to visit under the cover story he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

When reached by the Associated Press on Sunday, Mr. Sanford confirmed the accuracy of a statement provided to CNN that announced his engagement to Maria Belen Chapur. He declined further comment.

Mr. Sanford was a rising Republican political star before he vanished from South Carolina for five days in 2009 to visit his mistress. Reporters were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

The father of four admitted when he returned to South Carolina that he was instead in Argentina with Ms. Chapur, who he later called his soul mate.

The international affair destroyed his marriage, which ended in a divorce from his wife, Jenny.