The State (Columbia, S.C.) –
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former South C. Gov. Mark Sanford has proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Maria Belen Chapur, according to an Argentinian newspaper, Clarin.
According to a story in the newspaper’s society section, the two “became engaged last Wednesday, at noon, in the Palermo restaurant Bella Italia Grill.”
The paper said Sanford arrived early at the restaurant and gave “a bag with the (engagement) ring to one of the waiters,” asking him to “to invent a good story for his girlfriend.”
Sanford then hid in a bathroom.
When Chapur arrived, the waiter said she had won “a prize” for being the 100th customer of the day and handed her the bag, which she opened, finding the ring. Sanford then appeared.
“What followed was a long moment of kisses, tears and emotions. There were heartfelt words and promises of eternity,” according to the Clarin article.
Sanford met Chapur in 2001 in Uruguay.
Their affair became public knowledge in mid-2009, when Sanford, then governor of South Carolina and mentioned as a possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate, vanished. Staffers initially said the married Republican governor was walking the Appalachian Trial.
Acting on a tip, The State reporter Gina Smith met Sanford June 24, 2009, getting off a plane from Argentina at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The two-term governor told Smith that he had been driving the coastline of Argentina. Later that same day, after The State told a former Sanford staffer that the paper had emails that purported to be between the governor and Chapur, Sanford acknowledged the affair at an emotional State House press conference.
Sanford and his wife, Jenny, divorced in 2010. They have four sons.