As one of Governor Sanford’s vocal supporters in the General Assembly, the phone’s been ringing off the hook. I’ve been approached by many asking my thoughts on Mark Sanford’s recent actions. My initial reaction is that I’ve felt like I’ve been kicked in the gut. Speechless. Shocked. Angry. Disappointed. This is what happens when a good, decent person of principle gets caught up in sin. It makes him do foolish things that hurt himself, his wife, his family, and in this case the citizens of South Carolina. As we’ve witnessed, a crystal clear reputation can evaporate very quickly.
Elected officials should role models that people can look up to.
I’ve been asked if he should resign as Governor. We need to consider what’s best to heal his marriage and his family. Also, we need to consider what’s best for South Carolina and this movement of reform that I and other conservatives in the legislature are committed to. I can’t answer this question at this time.
Governor Sanford asked for forgiveness from all South Carolinians today:
“First and foremost, I apologize to my wife and my four boys. I have made decisions that have hurt and will continue to hurt them, and for that I’m sincerely sorry. Jenny has stood by me through campaign after campaign, through hard time after hard time, and neither she nor the boys deserve this. Please offer them your prayers.
“I apologize to my staff. I misled them about my whereabouts, and as a result the people of South Carolina believed something that wasn’t true. I want to make absolutely clear that over the past two days at no time did anyone on my staff intentionally relay false information to other state officials or the public at large. What they’ve said over the past two days they believed to be true, and I’m sorry to them for putting them in this position.
“I apologize to the people of South Carolina. There are many people out there right now who are hurt, angry and disappointed with me, and rightfully so. Over the time that I have left in office, I’m going to devote my energy to building back the trust the people of this state have placed in me.
“I ask for your forgiveness, and your prayers for everyone who I’ve hurt,” Sanford said.
Is forgiveness possible? Reconciliation? Restoration of public trust? Only time will tell. The State Newspaper has extensive coverage of Gov. Sanford’s public confession and timeline of the affair.
I appreciate the First Lady of South Carolina’s impressive statement. In closing, she asks for protection of privacy for her and their children. I hope we can honor her request in the court of public opinion. Here’s her statement:
Statement from First Lady Jenny Sanford
I would like to start by saying I love my husband and I believe I have put forth every effort possible to be the best wife I can be during our almost twenty years of marriage. As well, for the last fifteen years my husband has been fully engaged in public service to the citizens and taxpayers of this state and I have faithfully supported him in those efforts to the best of my ability. I have been and remain proud of his accomplishments and his service to this state.
I personally believe that the greatest legacy I will leave behind in this world is not the job I held on Wall Street, or the campaigns I managed for Mark, or the work I have done as First Lady or even the philanthropic activities in which I have been routinely engaged. Instead, the greatest legacy I will leave in this world is the character of the children I, or we, leave behind. It is for that reason that I deeply regret the recent actions of my husband Mark, and their potential damage to our children.
I believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity, dignity and importance of the institution of marriage. I believe that has been consistently reflected in my actions. When I found out about my husband’s infidelity I worked immediately to first seek reconciliation through forgiveness, and then to work diligently to repair our marriage. We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong. I therefore asked my husband to leave two weeks ago.
This trial separation was agreed to with the goal of ultimately strengthening our marriage. During this short separation it was agreed that Mark would not contact us. I kept this separation quiet out of respect of his public office and reputation, and in hopes of keeping our children from just this type of public exposure. Because of this separation, I did not know where he was in the past week.
I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal. I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage.
Psalm 127 states that sons are a gift from the Lord and children a reward from Him. I will continue to pour my energy into raising our sons to be honorable young men. I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and to welcome him back, in time, if he continues to work toward reconciliation with a true spirit of humility and repentance.
This is a very painful time for us and I would humbly request now that members of the media respect the privacy of my boys and me as we struggle together to continue on with our lives and as I seek the wisdom of Solomon, the strength and patience of Job and the grace of God in helping to heal my family.