On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported it had obtained court documents containing a trespassing complaint against Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), made by his ex-wife. The complaint said that on February 3rd, Sanford’s ex-wife, Jenny, caught him leaving her home. He did not have her permission to be there, as stipulated in their divorce agreement. She filed her complaint with the court the next day. The more interesting question, however, is how did the AP get the sealed document?
“I have no idea how these documents got to the [Associated Press],” Jenny Sanford told The Hill via email. “It was my understanding they were part of the sealed documents from our divorce.”
“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,” Mark Sanford said in a statement. “Given [Jenny] 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.”
Divorces can be messy, emotional events. One reason divorce records are usually sealed is to spare the parties, and their children, from the embarrassment of revealing private details surrounding the divorce. It is not uncommon for accusations and counter-assusations to be made as the process is resolved.
Sanford’s opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch was herself party to a very contentious divorce years ago. She was even found in contempt of court for “willfully” ignoring court orders and held in a county jail for 6 hours. Divorces do not often bring out our inner-angels.
The Associated Press should disclose how they came to obtain the sealed documents. The revelation, coming just 3 weeks before a high-profile election to fill a Congressional vacancy, raises questions about the political motivation behind the leaked document. Whomever leaked the document should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.