Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford is engaged to the ex-journalist he called his “soul mate” after locking himself in a handicapped bathroom stall for an hour while waiting to propose to her.
According to the Argentinian newspaper Clarín, Sanford arrived early to the Bella Italia Grill in Palermo for a lunch date last week with Maria Belen Chapur, handed a waiter a bag containing the engagement ring and told him to “make up a good story” for her while he hid in the stall.
When Chapur arrived, she was told she had won a prize for being the restaurant’s 100th customer of the day. Though she reportedly didn’t know what to make of the story, Sanford soon emerged to spring his proposal, which she accepted.
CNN published photos of Sanford with Chapur Sunday, citing a source “close to” the former governor, along with a statement confirming the engagement.
“I’m both happy and excited for what that means,” he said. “I have long expressed my feelings for her, she’s a wonderful person. My closest friends have met and love her, and I look forward to introducing her to still many more that have yet to do so.”
Republicans began placing Sanford in high-profile positions three years ago to groom him for a leadership role, before he seemingly vanished that June; while reporters were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, it turned out he had been visiting Chapur in Argentina without telling his staff, or his wife.
Sanford resigned from both his governorship and as leader of the Republican Governors Association and became a national punchline. He was succeeded by Nikki Haley, his former protege.
A report by Newsy on the engagement, posted on DailyMotion Monday by user tvnportal, can be seen below.