The Argentinian woman who South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford fell hard for runs marathons, speaks four languages and gives "gentle kisses."
Maria Belen Chapur lives in an apartment near a zoo in an upscale Buenos Aires neighborhood and works as a commodities trader, according to Argentinian newspaper La Nacion. She has refused to talk to reporters since Sanford's stunning meltdown at a Wednesday press conference, in which the governor admitted he was visiting her during his mysterious, weeklong disappearance.
At his tearful and rambling news conference, in which Sanford begged for forgiveness and apologized to a long roster of loved ones, voters and "people of faith," the governor referred to Chapur only as a "dear, dear friend." But in steamy e-mails between the two, released yesterday by South Carolina's The State newspaper, Sanford revealed deep, romantic feelings for Chapur.
“Please sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul,” Sanford wrote in an e-mail dated July 10, 2008.
The object of Sanford's desire was identified by Argentinian newspaper La Nacion as Maria Belen Chapur, 43, of Buenos Aires, a divorced mother of two adolescent boys. She runs marathons and is fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
On Thursday, Sanford was with his wife and four sons at their beach house on Sullivans Island, his spokesman Joel Sawyer told The Associated Press. Jenny Sanford and the boys had been staying at the house for several days.
Jenny Sanford said in a statement released Wednesday that she had kicked her husband out of the home two weeks ago and asked him not to speak to her while she came to grips with his infidelity. However, both have said they will try to reconcile.
Sanford now faces a host of legal and ethical questions. The state's top senator questioned whether Sanford broke the law when he disappeared for several days on trip to South America and didn't transfer power to the lieutenant governor.
"I would think that if the evidence indicates that there is a willful effort to circumvent the constitution, I think there would be a chorus of calls for him to resign," said state Sen. Glenn McConnell, a fellow Republican.
McConnell said Sanford needed to answer questions about whether taxpayer money was used, but stopped short of calling for an investigation. Sanford's spokesman has said no state resources were used during the affair.
The speed of his collapse was shocking. Even his former chief of staff and friend of 30 years, state Sen. Tom Davis, said he didn't know about the affair until Wednesday.
"I think that South Carolinians, in particular Americans, have tremendous capacity for forgiveness. That said, they can also recognize hypocrisy. I think the tale of the tape will be the next few days, whether or not Governor Sanford is sincere in his repentance," Davis told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday.