Rep. Sanford's fiancee speaks out on affair

Catalina Camia and Alan Gomez, USA TODAY

Rep. Mark Sanford's fiancée, Maria Belen Chapur, says she is "happy" in her relationship with the Republican congressman.

Chapur gave her first extended remarks about her relationship with Sanford, a former South Carolina governor whose political career was derailed by his extramarital affair, to Infobae, an Argentine TV station, last week.

"When we're together, we live together," Chapur said, according to a translated version of her TV interview. "Partly in Washington, partly in Charleston. Now it's difficult, but until last year, he would come to Buenos Aires."

Sanford won redemption from South Carolina voters in May, winning back his old congressional seat after a two-year break from politics. Sanford's affair with Chapur, which he admitted to in 2009, wrecked his marriage. The relationship became tabloid fodder when he told his staff that he was "hiking on the Appalachian Trail" and could not be reached, when he was instead visiting Chapur in Argentina.

Sanford and his ex-wife, Jenny, had a messy divorce which came up again in his congressional campaign this year when she charged him with trespassing at her South Carolina home. (They settled out of court.)

Chapur, a former TV journalist and divorced mother of two, appeared at Sanford's primary victory events. She stayed largely behind the scenes during his short campaign against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Chapur attended Sanford's swearing-in celebration at the U.S. Capitol, and sat in the visitor's gallery next to two of his sons.

Chapur told Infobae that she and Sanford met in 2001 in Uruguay. She said they had a "strict friendship" for years - she even received the Sanford family Christmas card - until their relationship changed in 2008.

"Since that time, we've stayed in the relationship," Chapur said. "Today, he returned to politics. Many asked him to resign and (he) decided to stay at a great cost and finished ranked as one of the four best governors in the United States."


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