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Who Really Outed Mark Sanford?

The State newspaper briefly explains in today's coverage of its blockbuster exclusive on Gov. Mark Sanford's secret getaway to Argentina and his extramarital affair why it sat on the story for six months.

In a nutshell: State journalists were unable to contact the woman in Argentina with whom the South Carolina governor was corresponding via e-mail. The newspaper obtained the e-mails back in December. But when reporters there reached out to "Maria" to verify the authenticity of the steamy love e-mails, they never heard back from her.

The juiciest nugget in the tale of how the paper got its scoop appears in today's New York Times. The Times reports that this week, on Tuesday, the State got an anonymous tip that led one of its reporters to find Sanford in the Atlanta airport.

A supposed airline passenger - or, hmmm, could it have been a private investigator? - told the State: "We've seen your governor on an airplane. He's not on the Appalachian Trail." And the tipster suggested the governor would be returning from Argentina, the Times said.

That's when editors at The State sent Gina Smith to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to find Sanford.

Smith herself, in a first person account of her interview with the governor at the airport, writes today that she couldn't believe she was the only reporter there to meet Sanford.

Here's what she writes:

"And why is there no other media here?" I wondered. "Could we be the only ones onto this story?"

It's how you think when you're playing a hunch, following an anonymous tip that Sanford would be on the plane and anonymous, unverifiable e-mails about an alleged affair between Sanford and woman from Argentina.

Intriguing. She says the tipster told The State that Sanford "would be on the plane." And according to the Times, the tipster claims to have seen Sanford on the airplane - presumably on the flight from Buenos Aires that arrived in Atlanta Wednesday morning.

So the tipster had to be someone who knew about the South Carolina governor's bizarre disappearing act and knew what he looked like. Or, perhaps the tipster was someone who had a vested interested in tracking Sanford's whereabouts.

And of course there's the even bigger question: Who sent the e-mails - from Sanford's personal e-mail account, no less - to The State newspaper in the first place? Seems to us like someone was mighty intent on outing the South Carolina governor for his philandering ways.

Also today, in case you haven't seen them, The State released the full contents of the love e-mails between the governor and his beloved Maria.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 25, 2009; 9:48 AM ET
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Next: RNC: Do You Know Where Your Governor Is?


So when you're paying taxes in SC, just know that some of it is going to pay for Sanford's insurance and the STD test he's going to have to make sure he didn't pick something up. Maybe you don't even have insurance, maybe you would be fired if you inexplicably missed five days of work. Hopefully you're calling for his removal from office.

Posted by: tweldy | June 25, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Well now, let's hope this is the last time we are lectured by the rightwing self-righteous bible-thumping holier than thou super hypocritical right wing fore-flushing frauds about morality and family vales.

Now if we can eliminate the rightwing psycho drivel from the flag draped super patriot draft dodging cowards like Cheney, Wolferwitz, Bolten, and the rest of the stupefyingly stupid neo-con crowd, the U S can get back to an era of informed rational thought and action.

No wonder the Party of NO, psycho talk, and old angry white guys is and should be irrelevant.

Posted by: JRussell42 | June 25, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"Don't cry for me Argentina, . . . "

Posted by: vicsoir | June 25, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Sanford can join Newt, Rush, Craig, Vitter, Ensign and the other culture warriors in putting down their stones. They never had the right to cast them.

Posted by: tgarahan | June 25, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Could have been his wife who forwarded the e-mails. He says his wife has known about the affair for 5 months, and the paper says they've had the emails for 6 months.

Which means the wife could have known about the affair for a month before confronting him with it.

Apparently she has some money, so it would probably be worth it for her to hire a PI to tail him. Especially after they started their "trial separation." To see what he would do with his relative "freedom."

Posted by: mikeinmidland | June 25, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting that the reporters who outed Sanford are written about as journalistic heroes, when the press was so dismissive and critical of the National Enquirer for doing precisely the same thing to John Edwards.

Posted by: tomtildrum | June 25, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Typical politician, one hand on his wallet the other on his zipper.

Posted by: jihadalready | June 26, 2009 5:56 AM | Report abuse

And Rush Limbaugh blames his excursion to Argentina on President Obama and the stimulus package.

Posted by: gwh2phjames | June 26, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Gov. Sanford knew full well when he entered into the affair with his then colleague, that being a public official, it would be an open affair; if a smaller paper had come out with the affair it would have been left to scandal.

Posted by: edtroyhampton | June 26, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

And Rush Limbaugh blames his excursion to Argentina on President Obama and the stimulus package.

Posted by: gwh2phjames | June 26, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Rush is just pissed because someone as smart as him went to South America without him.

Rush will change his tune when he finds out that the governor went there to do a full grown WOMAN.

Posted by: dennissuper | June 26, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

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