Sanford, female guest spent weekend in Keys

The (Charleston) Post and CourierMay 10, 2010 

COLUMBIA, SC MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2009 ERIK CAMPOS---Gov. Mark Sanford laughs with members of the news media on Monday, June 1, 2009 after a press conference where he announced he will let the South Carolina Supreme Court determine the status of federal stimulus funds without appeal. Erik Campos/ecampos@thestate.com

FILE PHOTO/THE STATE

Gov. Mark Sanford and a female guest spent the weekend in the Florida Keys at a luxury hotel that is a getaway destination with a long list of famous visitors, including celebrities and U.S. presidents.

Sanford and the woman had a three-day reservation at the Cheeca Lodge and Spa, Megan Sterritt with the Miami public relations firm KWE Group Inc. confirmed Monday. Sterritt would not say if the woman who accompanied the now-divorced Sanford was Maria Belen Chapur, the woman with whom Sanford had the affair that brought down his presidential aspirations last year.

The governor's communications director, Ben Fox, provided few details about the trip.

"The governor had taken personal time over the weekend, and this trip was paid for personally," Fox said in an e-mail. "Over that time staff has been in regular contact with him. The governor has long moved past discussing matters in his personal life publicly."

Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's communications director, Frank Adams, said that Sanford did not notify Bauer that he was leaving the state, although legislators have said that they want the governor to let the state's second-in-command know when he leaves South Carolina.

Questions arose after the governor's tearful apology in June about the consequences of an emergency when the chief executive is otherwise predisposed. He revealed that he had an extramarital affair and misled his staff to think that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail while he was actually with his mistress in Argentina.

Today, the House Judiciary Committee will consider whether to send a bill to the floor that requires the governor to contact the lieutenant governor when he leaves the state. The Senate passed the bill Feb. 3.

The official scrutiny surrounding the governor has passed. Sanford was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing associated with his official travel, campaign reimbursements and unreported flights on private planes. Those issues were raised after his affair became public.

Sanford faced possible civil charges but settled the case with the State Ethics Commission before it went to a hearing. He paid more than $100,000 in fines and investigation fees as well as about $20,000 more in reimbursements to state agencies for his air travel.

Sanford and his wife, Jenny, divorced in March. The former first lady confirmed reports in April that she was dating Georgia businessman Clay Boardman, who is a neighbor of hers on Sullivan's Island.

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