COLUMBIA, SC — Jenny Sanford does not care how a trespassing complaint against her ex-husband Mark Sanford could affect his chances of winning a congressional race next month, the former S.C. first lady told The State on Tuesday.
Mark Sanford, a Republican who was S.C. governor from 2003-2011, has been ordered to appear in court to answer the complaint, filed by Jenny Sanfords lawyer, two days after the May 7 special election to fill the vacant 1st District congressional seat, the Associated Press reported.
The race is not a concern, Jenny Sanford told The State. I am focused on raising my children.
Jenny Sanford declined to discuss details about the Feb. 3 incident that led to the complaint, except to say: We have had a number of matters (in their divorce), and we have to deal with them in private.
Asked what those other issues were, the former first lady said: Direct those questions to my ex-husband.
Efforts to reach Mark Sanford, his campaign and state GOP leaders Tuesday were unsuccessful.
A spokesman for Mark Sanfords May 7 Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, declined to comment on the trespassing complaint.
However, S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian said Sanford has consistently demonstrated that rules are for everybody else but him.
His life is a soap opera, and its a distraction, Harpootlian said. And I think voters will consider that.
Citing documents, the Associated Press reported Jenny Sanford confronted her ex-husband leaving her Sullivans Island home on Feb. 3, using his cellphone for a flashlight. Her attorney filed a complaint the next day. The couples divorce settlement says neither can enter the others home without permission.
Jenny Sanford had warned Mark Sanford about coming to her home in the past and demanded he stop, including having her attorney send a letter to the ex-governor and police, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Jenny Sanford also filed a complaint against her ex-husband for failing to make a $5,000 yearly contribution for one of their four sons college education costs, an issue that the former first lady said was resolved, according to The Associated Press.
Mark Sanford won the Republican runoff for the congressional seat along the Lowcountry coast in a bid to resurrect his political career. Once considered a possible GOP presidential or vice presidential candidate, many experts thought Sanfords future in politics was over when he was caught having an affair with an Argentinian woman, Maria Belen Chapur, while he was governor in 2009.
Shortly thereafter, Jenny Sanford left the Governors Mansion and divorced the then-governor. Mark Sanford, who escaped impeachment but paid more than $70,000 in ethics fines before leaving office, now is engaged to Chapur.
Late last month, a poll showed Mark Sanford in a statistical dead heat with Colbert Busch, a political newcomer whose brother is TV comedian Stephen Colbert. Jenny Sanford said last week that she would not endorse anyone in the congressional race. Her ex-husband held the seat for six years before he was elected to two terms as S.C. governor.
The seat opened midterm when then-1st District U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Gov. Nikki Haley to succeed Jim DeMint, R-Greenville, who retired to become head of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.
Neal Thigpen, a retired Francis Marion political scientist, said he thinks Sanford has a shot at winning the 1st District, which went for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by 18 percentage points over Democratic President Barack Obama in November.
But, you know he needed this like a hole in the head, Thigpen said of the trespassing charges. Hes been lucky so far in this thing and, you know, his luck could turn bad here at the end.
Mark Sanford responds
Here is the text of a statement issued by Mark Sanford on April 17, 2013:
Its an unfortunate reality that divorced couples sometimes have disagreements that spill over into family court. I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didnt think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened.
There is always another side to every story, and while I am particularly curious how records that were sealed to avoid the boys dealing with embarrassment are now somehow exposed less than three weeks before this election, I agree with Jenny that the media is no place to debate what is ultimately a family court matter, and out of respect for Jenny and the boys, Im not going to have any further comment at this time"