Nearly two years after their love affair spawned one of America’s most celebrated political sex scandals (and nearly cost him his job), former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford says he is still romantically involved with his Latin lover, Maria Belen Chapur.
Sanford confirmed the ongoing nature of the relationship to CNN’s Piers Morgan on Monday night.
“Looking back on it, you’re still with the woman that you left your wife for,” Morgan said.
Sanford nodded, saying “Mm-hmm.”
Previously, Sanford told The New York Times that he and Chapur “see each other as we can.”
The former “Luv Gov” has been tight-lipped about his relationship status – although it became abundantly clear that he was interested in pursuing a relationship with Chapur very shortly after his divorce was finalized. While still governor, Sanford stole away to the Florida Keys on Mother’s Day weekend a year ago to see Chapur – and the pair have been photographed together on numerous occasions since he left office in January (here and here).
Despite the fact that his new love is obviously blossoming, Sanford told Morgan that he still feels regret for letting “a lot of people down.”
“There’s got to be regret,” Sanford said. “There’s something sacred about a family unit … anything that brings harm to your boys you have genuine regret about.”
And while many have speculated that Sanford establishing a more formal relationship with Chapur could be a prelude to the re-launching of his once-promising political career, Sanford confirmed to Morgan that he has no intention of getting back into politics.
Sanford’s scandal began in June 2009 when he mysteriously disappeared from South Carolina at the end of that year’s legislative session. After telling his staff that he was “hiking the Appalachian trail,” he was busted a few days later at the Atlanta airport by Gina Smith of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper.
Many believe it was S.C. First Lady Jenny Sanford who blew the whistle on his extracurricular activities.
At a bizarre, rambling press conference at the S.C. State House, Sanford admitted that he had been unfaithful to his wife and that he had lied to his family, his staff and the citizens of South Carolina about his whereabouts. Days later, just when it appeared the scandal had died down, Sanford granted an ill-fated interview with the Associated Press in which he called Chapur his “soul mate,” admitted “crossing lines” with other women and said that he was trying to “fall back in love” with his wife – who ended up publicly exiting the governor’s mansion and divorcing him.
Oh … and he almost got impeached over all the travel violations his affair uncovered.