Ex-first lady is still in the hunt

gnsmith@thestate.comMarch 20, 2010 

Jenny Sanford's divorce from Gov. Mark Sanford was finalized Thursday, meaning she's no longer South Carolina's first lady.

But that's not stopping her from performing some of her long-held first lady duties.

In a Friday news release, Jenny Sanford announced she will host the annual First Lady's Easter Egg Hunt along with the Palmetto Health Children's Hospital and the Junior League of Columbia.

Children's Hospital patients, between the ages of 3 and 10, will hunt for Easter eggs hidden around the Governor's Mansion complex - where Gov. Mark Sanford lives alone.

Since last summer, Jenny Sanford and the couple's four sons have lived at a Sullivan's Island beachfront home.

"I am honored to once again be a part of this special event for my eighth year celebrating all the children who have been successfully treated at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital," Jenny Sanford said in a prepared statement. "This community is certainly blessed to have a top-notch Children's Hospital with such excellent doctors and nurses, and I encourage all to continue to support this fine institution."

There are no hard and fast rules on whether the former first lady should or should not continue in her duties.

Sanford is the state's first sitting governor to get a divorce since South Carolina legalized divorce in 1949. Former governor and U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings divorced after leaving the governor's office.

"The first lady position is not a real position. It's a custom," said Lynne Ford, a College of Charleston political science professor whose field of study includes women in politics. "So whoever is in that position makes up the rules."

"She still has a public profile, and if she wants to have an Easter egg roll, then she can," Ford said.

Reach Smith at (803) 771-8658.

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