Impeachment drama over, Jenny Sanford files for divorce

COLUMBIA, S.C. — First Lady Jenny Sanford filed for divorce from Gov. Mark Sanford on Friday. Her two-page filing in Charleston County family court, sought the divorce on grounds of adultery.

The news comes the same week as Gov. Sanford was censured but spared impeachment by a House subcommittee investigating allegations that Sanford misused campaign money, and state planes and other assets. Those allegations came to light after the governor secretly left the state for five days in June to visit his Argentine lover.

Gov. Sanford responded to his estranged wife’s filing with that statement that thank her for being "more than gracious" since news of his affair broke.

"While it is not the course I would have hoped for, or would choose, I want to take full responsibility for the moral failure that led us to this tragic point. Jenny is a great person, and has been a remarkable wife, mother and first lady. She has been more than gracious these last six months and gone above and beyond in her patience and commitment to put the needs of others in front of her own. While our family structure may change, I know that we will both work earnestly to be the best mom and dad we can be to four of the finest boys on earth.”

In her court filing, Jenny Sanford said “the defendant has engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman other than the plaintiff (Jenny Sanford). The plaintiff has not condoned that relationship and is informed and believes that she is entitled to a divorce ... on ground of adultery.”

The first lady’s filing said she “is informed and believes that all ... matters between the parties” — custody of the couple’s four sons and division of their assets — ”will be resolved by agreement, which agreement will be presented to the court for approval and adoption. ...”

While both Sanfords — who married in Florida in 1989 — regularly are described as multi-millionaires, Jenny Sanford is, in fact, the wealthier. She is an heir to the Skil saw fortune, while his wealth is largely based on illiquid land holdings.

Gov. Sanford had said Thursday that he still hoped to save his marriage. “There are hopes to reconcile.”

The two-term, Republican governor made his comments a day after Jenny Sanford appeared on Barbara Walters’ ABC special on the 10 most fascinating people of 2009.

In that interview, recorded earlier, Jenny Sanford was asked if their 20-year marriage would survive. “I think the hurdles are significant,” she replied.

Jenny Sanford went on to say she had forgiven her husband, but forgetting was another matter.

Gov. Sanford said Thursday that he had not watched the interview.

Jenny Sanford and the couple’s four sons left the Governor’s Mansion this summer and moved to the family’s Sullivans Island home, leaving Mark Sanford in Columbia.

A statement Jenny Sanford released Friday said:

“As so many of us know, the dissolution of any marriage is a sad and painful process. It is also a very personal and private one. Because Mark and I are public figures, we have naturally had less privacy with which to deal with our difficulties than do other couples. Indeed, I know it will soon become known so I choose to release this brief notice that I am now filing for divorce. This came after many unsuccessful efforts at reconciliation, yet I am still dedicated to keeping the process that lies ahead peaceful for our family.

“I remain thankful to so many across this state and nation for their words of encouragement and prayers during this difficult time. Please know the boys and I are doing well and are blessed with the incredible support of friends and family and bolstered by our faith and the unfailing love of our God above.”

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