Sanford claims Super Bowl defense in trespassing
By CNN Political Unit
(CNN) — The accusations of trespassing leveled at former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford by his ex-wife Jenny arose after he visited his son to watch the Super Bowl, Sanford explained in a statement Wednesday.
The explanation came the day after news broke Sanford has been ordered to appear in court two days after the May election in which he’s contending to become South Carolina’s next congressman. On Wednesday, Sanford went up with his first general election ad criticizing Democratic rival Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
Also Wednesday, a major GOP campaign group–the National Republican Congressional Committee–confirmed it was no longer using its resources to support Sanford in the race.
“Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time, the NRCC will not be engaged in this special election,” spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in a statement.
Jenny Sanford claims in court documents she saw her ex-husband leaving her Sullivan’s Island home on Feb. 3, roughly three weeks after Mark Sanford announced his bid for Congress.
“It’s an unfortunate reality that divorced couples sometimes have disagreements that spill over into family court,” Mark Sanford wrote in his statement. “I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened.”
The couple were divorced in 2010 after the then-governor admitted he was carrying on an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina. He finished out his gubernatorial term in 2011 and has since become engaged to the same woman.
On Tuesday, Jenny Sanford wrote in a message to CNN, “I understood [the documents] were to have remained part of the sealed divorce docs. This is a private matter and I have no further comment.”
Sanford said in his statement he is “particularly curious how records that were sealed to avoid the boys dealing with embarrassment are now somehow exposed less than three weeks before this election.”
He said he agreed with his ex-wife that the “media is no place to debate what is ultimately a family court matter.”
Seeking political redemption, Sanford won the Republican primary this month in a race to fill the 1st District seat left vacant when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Tim Scott to the Senate late last year.
It’s the same district Sanford represented in Congress before becoming governor.
As he deals with the trespassing controversy, Sanford is also going on the attack against his Democratic opponent. In his first TV commercial since he became the GOP nominee, Sanford highlights Colbert Busch’s union ties.
“Elizabeth Colbert Busch says she knows jobs and will be independent, but she’s not telling you that she’s supported by labor unions,” says the female narrator in the 30-second spot. “Nearly $30,000 in checks from big labor, even from the union who tried to shut down Boeing and ship a thousand jobs out of South Carolina.”
The Sanford campaign confirms to CNN that the ad will start running Wednesday through April 22, and that the campaign will spend nearly $100,000 to run the spot on broadcast and cable television in the Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia markets, which cover nearly all of South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. The campaign is also running the ad on radio in Charleston and Hilton Head, South Carolina.
National Journal first reported the new Sanford commercial.
CNN’s Paul Steinhauser, Peter Hamby, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.