BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Maria Belen Chapur, the Argentine woman who former South Carolina Gov. left his wife and derailed his career over, has finally spoken on camera about their relationship.
Chapur was interviewed by a colleague at Infobae, an Argentine multimedia company where she writes a column. She agreed to talk about the U.S. government shutdown saga, and the interviewer didn't let the opportunity pass without asking her about her personal life with Sanford, who recently won a U.S. congressional seat and has tried to put the scandal over his love life behind him.
"Yes, I'm happy. Until now, happy," she said, adding that she's met Sanford's children, and that she'll remain tied to Argentina for now because her younger son is just 19.
"When we're together, we live together. Partly in Washington, partly in Charleston. Now it's difficult, but until last year he would come to Buenos Aires."
Chapur and Sanford met in 2001 in Uruguay, and she said they didn't begin the affair that derailed his political career and led to his divorce from Jenny Sanford until 2008. "It was strictly friendship. In fact, I would get a Christmas card with their family photo. You can see the mails and there's nothing more there but friendship."
She said Sanford has made major sacrifices for his country, and suggested that no one should think their partnership is about money.
"What I can tell you is that he works incredibly hard, he deeply loves his country. What he's gone through these past five years — he could have left it all behind him. It's not about the money. The whole world has this fantasy that governors or congressman make a lot of money."
"I can tell you that a governor makes $108,000 a year and from this you have to deduct a third in taxes, so from this he can't even pay for private school for his children, without of course help from family or a fortune from before. And on the other hand, in the United States, you go to jail — there's no bribery. You get compensated in another way," she said.