Mark Sanford Won Exemption to Take Fiancée on All-Expenses Trip to Israel

(AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
Add to Briefcase
Shane Goldmacher
Sept. 9, 2013, 12:05 p.m.

Rep. Mark San­ford, whose ex­tramar­it­al dal­li­ance abroad while gov­ernor of South Car­o­lina led to scan­dal, took his mis­tress-turned-fiancée, María Belén Chapur, to Is­rael in Au­gust, on a trip paid for by the Amer­ic­an Is­rael Edu­ca­tion Found­a­tion, con­gres­sion­al re­cords show.

Such privately fun­ded trips are typ­ic­ally lim­ited to re­l­at­ives, but San­ford, a Re­pub­lic­an who won a House seat in a spe­cial elec­tion earli­er in the year, asked for and re­ceived a spe­cial ex­emp­tion to take Belén Chapur along.

San­ford gave a two-word an­swer on the con­gres­sion­al travel form when asked why he wanted to par­ti­cip­ate in the Is­rael trip. “Edu­ca­tion­al pur­poses,” he wrote.

The Amer­ic­an Is­rael Edu­ca­tion Found­a­tion spent more than $18,558 to fly San­ford and his fiancée to and from Is­rael for the weeklong jour­ney. They flew busi­ness class, re­cords show, with round-trip flights that cost more than $5,000 apiece. They were part of a del­eg­a­tion of roughly two dozen Re­pub­lic­ans, in­clud­ing House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor and House Ma­jor­ity Whip Kev­in Mc­Carthy.

Many law­makers bring their spouses along on such trips. Both Can­tor and Mc­Carthy took their wives. But for San­ford to take Belén Chapur, he had to ask the House Eth­ics Com­mit­tee for a waiver. Con­gres­sion­al travel rules say those in­di­vidu­als ac­com­pa­ny­ing law­makers on privately fun­ded trips are sup­posed to be re­l­at­ives.

The Eth­ics Com­mit­tee, in a let­ter to San­ford, noted that “fiancés/fiancées and un­mar­ried sig­ni­fic­ant oth­ers are not ‘re­l­at­ives’ for pur­poses of these [travel] reg­u­la­tions.” The pan­el non­ethe­less ap­proved her travel, not­ing that the reg­u­la­tions al­low “trav­el­ers to seek ad­vance, writ­ten per­mis­sion from the com­mit­tee to be ac­com­pan­ied by a non-re­l­at­ive.”

Con­gres­sion­al travel re­cords show that San­ford asked for an ex­emp­tion on Ju­ly 10. “AIEF has made an un­so­li­cited of­fer to pay for the ex­penses of her travel,” San­ford told the Eth­ics Com­mit­tee.

The pan­el, which is led by Chair­man Mike Con­away, R-Texas, and rank­ing mem­ber Linda Sanc­hez, D-Cal­if., ap­proved Belén Chapur’s travel on Ju­ly 24. The two law­makers wrote that they had the power “to grant a waiver “¦ in ‘an un­usu­al case,’ provided ‘there is no po­ten­tial con­flict or in­terest or ap­pear­ance of im­pro­pri­ety.’ “

The couple de­par­ted for Is­rael on Aug. 10 and re­turned Aug. 18. The web­site Le­giS­torm, which tracks con­gres­sion­al travel, first noted the par­ti­cip­a­tion of Belén Chapur on the trip, which in­cluded stops in Jer­u­s­alem, Beth­le­hem, Tel Aviv, and the Sea of Ga­lilee.

San­ford’s of­fice did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

While gov­ernor of South Car­o­lina in 2009, San­ford dis­ap­peared for a week, as his staff said he had gone hik­ing on the Ap­palachi­an Trail. It was later re­vealed that he had traveled to Ar­gen­tina, where he was hav­ing an af­fair with Belén Chapur. He and his wife sub­sequently di­vorced, and he served out his term as gov­ernor des­pite be­ing cen­sured by state law­makers.

San­ford was left for dead, polit­ic­ally, after he de­par­ted the gov­ernor’s of­fice in 2011. But the sur­prise resig­na­tion of then-Sen. Jim De­Mint, R-S.C., and the ap­point­ment of Tim Scott, R-S.C., opened up a House seat this year. San­ford ran in a spe­cial elec­tion, beat­ing out Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee Eliza­beth Col­bert Busch, the sis­ter of tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Steph­en Col­bert.

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP CONTINUES TO LAWYER UP
Kasowitz Out, John Dowd In
2 days ago
THE LATEST

As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."

Source:
ALSO INQUIRES ABOUT PARDON POWER
Trump Looking to Discredit Mueller
2 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.

Source:
INCLUDES NY PROBE INTO MANAFORT
Why Yes, Mueller Is Looking into Trump Businesses
2 days ago
THE LATEST

In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."

Source:
Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."

Source:
ANALYSIS FROM CBO
32 Million More Uninsured by 2026 if Obamacare Repealed
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login