- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 8, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. | The wife of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford moved out of the official governor’s residence with their four sons Friday, a little more than a month after he admitted to a yearlong affair with an Argentine woman he called his “soul mate.”

First lady Jenny Sanford and several other women moved boxes and clothing from the governor’s mansion in Columbia. In a statement, Mrs. Sanford said she was heading to the family home on Sullivan’s Island, some 120 miles east, for the upcoming school year.

“From there, we will work to continue the process of healing our family,” she said. “While we will be leaving Columbia, we will return often, and I will remain engaged in activities in my role as first lady, acknowledging that my responsibilities to my family come first.”

Mr. Sanford’s office did not immediately comment. The governor was scheduled to speak in the southern part of the state later in the afternoon to name a new county official.

Mrs. Sanford is a former Wall Street vice president who helped launch her husband’s political career only to endure his tearful public confession in June. She had separated from her husband and sought refuge with her sons at the couple’s coastal home two weeks before news of the affair broke.

The boys had attended Heathwood Hall, a private school in Columbia. A family friend who spoke with the Associated Press on the condition her name not be used said Mrs. Sanford has discussed enrolling her sons in Porter Gaud, a similar private school in Charleston.

The departure came two days after the Sanfords returned from a two-week family vacation in Europe.

Mrs. Sanford has called her husband’s behavior “inexcusable,” but said she was willing to give him another chance, although she said reconciliation would not be easy.

Mr. Sanford, 49, disappeared for nearly a week in late June to see his Argentine lover, Maria Belen Chapur, leaving 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.

Mrs. Sanford told the AP that she learned about the affair in January when she came across a copy of a letter her husband wrote to his mistress. In the ensuing months, her husband asked several times to visit the other woman, requests she denied, the first lady said.

“It’s one thing to forgive adultery; it’s another thing to condone it,” she told the AP during an exclusive interview soon after the governor revealed the affair.

Days later, after the governor told the AP he was relying on religious faith to help salvage his marriage even though the love of his life was in Argentina, Mrs. Sanford said it was up to the people of South Carolina whether they want to give their governor a second chance.

“His far more egregious offenses were committed against God, the institutions of marriage and family, our boys and me,” she said at the time.

The Sanfords met in New York in the 1980s when Mr. Sanford also was working in finance, at Goldman Sachs. The couple married in 1989 and relocated to South Carolina, where Mr. Sanford worked in real estate before serving three terms in Congress.

Until revelations of the affair with the woman Mr. Sanford met on a trip to Uruguay in 2001, the governor had been considered a possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate.

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