Read our 2017 Report Card for Sanford.
Sanford is shown as a purple triangle ▲ in our ideology-leadership chart below. Each dot is a member of the House of Representatives positioned according to our liberal–conservative ideology score (left to right) and our leadership score (leaders are toward the top).
The chart is based on the bills Sanford has sponsored and cosponsored. See full analysis methodology.
Ratings from Advocacy Organizations
Marshall “Mark” Sanford sits on the following committees:
- House Committee on the Budget
- House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
- House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Sanford sponsors bills primarily in these issue areas:
Economics and Public Finance (26%)International Affairs (16%)Transportation and Public Works (16%)Energy (11%)Armed Forces and National Security (11%)Public Lands and Natural Resources (11%)Taxation (11%)
Some of Sanford’s most recently sponsored bills include...
View All » | View Cosponsors »
|Sanford’s Vote||Vote Description|
|Nay||H.R. 1039: Probation Officer Protection Act of 2017|
May 19, 2017. Passed 229/177.
H.R. 1039 amends the federal criminal code to authorize a probation officer to arrest a person, without warrant, if there is probable cause to believe that person forcibly assaulted or obstructed a probation officer while performing their official duties. The bill also would direct the ...
|Aye||S. 612: A bill to designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 1300 Victoria Street in Laredo, Texas, as the “George P. Kazen Federal Building ...|
Dec 8, 2016. Passed 360/61.
|No||H.R. 3038: Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015, Part II|
Jul 15, 2015. Passed 312/119.
|Aye||H.R. 2146: Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act|
Jun 18, 2015. Passed 218/208.
This vote made H.R. 2146 the vehicle for passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal currently being negotiated. H.R. 2146 was originally introduced as a bill to address issues with retirement funds of federal law enforcement officers and firefighters. ...
|Nay||H.R. 2048: Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015|
May 13, 2015. Passed 338/88.
The USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048, Pub.L. 114–23) is a U.S. law enacted on June 2, 2015 that restored in modified form several provisions of the Patriot Act, which had expired the day before. The act imposes some new limits on the bulk collection of ...
|Nay||H.R. 83 (113th): Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015|
Dec 11, 2014. Passed 219/206.
This bill became the vehicle for passage of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 [pdf], which was approved by the House on December 11, 2014 and by the Senate on December 13, 2014. The bill was originally introduced on January 3, 2013 by ...
|Nay||H.R. 4681 (113th): Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015|
Dec 10, 2014. Passed 325/100.
|No||H.J.Res. 124 (113th): Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015|
Sep 17, 2014. Passed 319/108.
|Nay||S. 1603 (113th): Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act|
Sep 16, 2014. Passed 359/64.
|Nay||H.R. 3393 (113th): Student and Family Tax Simplification Act|
Jul 24, 2014. Passed 227/187.
From Jan 1995 to Mar 2018, Sanford missed 142 of 6,934 roll call votes, which is 2.0%. This is on par with the median of 2.3% among the lifetime records of representatives currently serving. The chart below reports missed votes over time.
Show the numbers...
|Time Period||Votes Eligible||Missed Votes||Percent||Percentile|
The information on this page is originally sourced from a variety of materials, including:
Marshall “Mark” Sanford is pronounced:
MAR-shuhl // SAN-furd
The letters stand for sounds according to the following table:
|Letter||Sounds As In|
Capital letters indicate a stressed syllable.
For the basketball player, see Mark Sanford (basketball). For the North Dakota politician, see Mark Sanford (North Dakota politician).
"The Love Gov" redirects here. For the former Alabama Governor also nicknamed "The Love Gov", see Robert J. Bentley.
Marshall Clement "Mark" Sanford Jr. (born May 28, 1960) is an American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for South Carolina's 1st congressional district since 2013; previously he held the same post from 1995 to 2001. Sanford was the Governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011.
First elected to Congress in 1994, Sanford left when he was elected Governor of South Carolina in 2002, defeating Democratic incumbent Jim Hodges. Sanford was re-elected in 2006. As governor, Sanford had a contentious relationship with the South Carolina legislators. Notably, Sanford unsuccessfully and unpopularly attempted to reject $700 million in stimulus funds for South Carolina from the 2009 Recovery Act. However, a South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that only the legislature, not the governor, has the authority to accept or decline the stimulus funds. In the House, he has been identified as a libertarian Republican, and was previously an ally of Ron Paul during their time in the House together.
In June 2009 and after an unexplained disappearance that made nation frontlines, Sanford publicly revealed that he had engaged in an affair with María Belén Chapur, an Argentine woman. While it led to censure by the South Carolina General Assembly and his resignation as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, it did not result in Sanford's actual resignation from the governorship.
Sanford is also a real estate developer and a former medical administration officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
Marshall Clement Sanford Jr. was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His parents were Marshall Clement Sanford Sr., a cardiologist, and his wife, the former Peggy Pitts. Despite his family being fairly well-to-do, his entire family slept in the same room to conserve electricity. Before his senior year of high school, Sanford moved with his family from Fort Lauderdale to the 3,000-acre (1,200 ha) Coosaw Plantation near Beaufort, South Carolina. Sanford attained the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.
Sanford received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business from Furman University in 1983 and a Master of Business Administration degree from Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia in 1988. Shortly afterward, he moved to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, an affluent suburban community off Charleston.
He founded Norton and Sanford Real Estate Investment, a leasing and brokerage company, in 1992, and still owns the company.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1994, Sanford entered the Republican primary for the Charleston-based 1st Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. The seat had come open after four-term Republican incumbent Arthur Ravenel declined to seek re-election in his ultimately unsuccessful run for Governor. Despite having never run for office before, Sanford finished second in a crowded primary behind Van Hipp Jr., a former George H. W. Bush administration official and former Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. Sanford defeated Van Hipp in the runoff and easily defeated State Representative Robert A. Barber Jr. in the November general election, winning by 66.3% to 32.4%.
Sanford was unopposed by Democratic candidates in 1996 and 1998. In 1996, he beat Joseph Innella of the Natural Law Party by 96.36% to 3.55%. He beat Innella again in 1998, this time by 91% to 8.9%.
While in Congress, Sanford was recognized as its most fiscally conservative member by the Cato Institute. He was also recognized by Citizens Against Government Waste, as well as the National Tax Payers Union, for his efforts to rein in government spending and reduce the national deficit. He garnered a lifetime rating of 92 from the American Conservative Union,.
Sanford was known for an independent streak. He was known for voting against bills that otherwise got unanimous support. For example, he voted against a bill that preserved sites linked to the Underground Railroad. He voted against pork barrel projects even when they benefited his own district; in 1997, he voted against a defense appropriations bill that included funds for Charleston's harbor. Seeing himself as a "citizen-legislator", he did not run for reelection in 2000, in keeping with a promise to serve only three terms in the House.
During his first tenure in Congress, Sanford sponsored 39 bills, including:
104th Congress (1995–1996)
- H.R. 1104, a bill to allow states to set term limits on individuals for House and Senate seats from their respective state, introduced March 1, 1995
- H.R. 2610, a bill to exclude members of Congress from participating in the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System, allowing instead for members of Congress to participate in the Thrift Savings Plan, to require roll call votes (Yes/Yea or No/Nay) for votes relating to congressional pay, and to set limits on what circumstances members of Congress can use military transportation and military health care, introduced November 9, 1995, reintroduced in the 105th Congress as H.R. 436
- H.R. 4319, a bill to require federal agencies to implement and maintain financial management systems that comply with federal laws and regulations, introduced September 28, 1996, reintroduced in the 105th Congress as H.R. 435
105th Congress (1997–1998)
- H.R. 2420, a bill to permit foreign-flag cruise vessels to transport Americans from one American port to another until an American cruise vessel takes its place, and to require such vessels to have repairs made in the United States, introduced September 5, 1997, reintroduced in the 106th Congress as H.R. 248
- H.R. 2768, a bill to allow for a defined-contribution personal retirement account for employees similar to Individual retirement accounts, introduced October 29, 1997, reintroduced in the 106th Congress as H.R. 249
- H.R. 2782, a bill to gradually increase the Social Security retirement age and to reduce the annual percent change in the cost-of-living increase for Social Security, introduced October 30, 1997, reintroduced in the 106th Congress as H.R. 250 and H.R. 251
- H.R. 4306, a bill to eliminate the spending cap adjustments for International Monetary Fund funding increases, introduced July 22, 1998
106th Congress (1999–2000)
- H.R. 1373, a bill to support the former Yugoslav Republics' transition to democracy, to provide aid to regions and communities negatively affected by the Serbian government's actions during the Yugoslav Wars, to impose sanctions on Yugoslavia, and to support the indictment of Slobodan Milošević as a war criminal if the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia chooses to indict him, introduced April 12, 1999
- H.R. 3516, a bill to prohibit pelagiclongline fishing in the exclusive economic zone in the Atlantic Ocean, introduced November 22, 1999
- H.R. 4471, a bill to allow U.S. citizens and legal residents to travel to and from Cuba, introduced May 16, 2000
- H.R. 5349, a bill to allow individuals to have $3 on their tax return ($6 if filing a joint tax return) allocated specifically to reducing the federal government's public debt, introduced September 29, 2000
- H.R. 5557, a bill to exempt from multi-family housing handicapped access design and construction (anti-discriminatory) requirements an individual dwelling unit that is readily convertible, and is so converted upon the request of a potential occupant, introduced October 25, 2000
Governor of South Carolina
In 2002, just before announcing he would run for governor, Sanford joined the Air Force Reserve. He entered the gubernatorial election of 2002; he first defeated Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler in the Republican primary and then defeated the Democratic incumbent, Jim Hodges, in the general election, by a margin of 53% to 47% to become the 115th Governor of South Carolina. In accordance with South Carolina law, Sanford was elected separately from the state's Republican lieutenant governor, Andre Bauer. Sanford and Bauer's wins gave the Republicans full control of state government for the first time since Reconstruction.
In 2003, after becoming governor, Sanford attended two weeks of training with the Air Force Reserve in Alabama with his unit, the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. While in training in 2003, Sanford did not transfer power to Bauer, saying he would be in regular contact with his office, and would transfer authority in writing only if he were called to active duty.
Sanford sometimes had a contentious relationship with the South Carolina General Assembly, even though it was dominated by his party for his entire tenure. The Republican-led state House of Representatives overrode 105 of Sanford's 106 budget vetoes on May 26, 2004. The following day, Sanford brought live pigs, who subsequently defecated on the House floor, into the House chamber as a visual protest against "pork projects."
Sanford rejected the Assembly's entire budget on June 13, 2006. Had this veto stood, the state government would have shut down on July 1. He explained his veto as being the only way to get the cuts he desired, and that using the line item veto would have been inadequate as well as impossible. However, in a special session the following day, both houses dismissed Sanford's call for reform by overriding his veto–effectively restoring their original budget.
Sanford professed to be a firm supporter of limited government. Later in his tenure, he embarked on a plan to reform methods of funding the state's public education system, including measures such as school vouchers– aimed at introducing more competition into the school system as a means of fostering improvement. The plan, known as "Put Parents In Charge", proposed to provide around $2,500 per child to parents who chose to withdraw their children from the state's public school system and instead send them to independent schools. Sanford framed this plan as a necessary market-based reform.
In 2003, Sanford sought to reform the state's public college system. Sanford has criticized these schools as focusing too much on separately creating research institutions and not on educating the young adults of South Carolina. Sanford also suggested that they combine some programs as a means of curbing tuition increases. The schools did not respond positively to this suggestion, however, causing Sanford to remark that "if any institution ultimately feels uncomfortable with our push toward coordination, they can exit the system and go private."
Sanford also indicated a desire to increase the powers of the executive branch. Under the South Carolina Constitution, the governor is somewhat weaker than many of his counterparts. For instance, many of his appointment powers are shared with the South Carolina General Assembly.
Sanford's first term included other controversies. A Time magazine article in November 2005, critical of Sanford, said that some "fear his thrift has brought the state's economy to a standstill."
According to Survey USA, Sanford's approval ratings ranged from 47% to 55% during 2006. According to Survey USA, Sanford's approval ratings in South Carolina after his admission of infidelity (6-24-09) showed that "60% think the Governor should resign. 34% feel he should remain in office."
His campaign for re-election in 2006 began by Sanford winning the June 13 Republican Primary over Oscar Lovelace, a family physician from Prosperity, with 65% of the vote to Lovelace's 35%. His Democratic competitor in the November elections was state senatorTommy Moore, whom Sanford beat by 55%–45%. Ultimately, Sanford left his first House stint with a 55% approval rating.
On election day, Sanford was not allowed to vote in his home precinct because he did not have his voter registration card. He was obliged to go to a voter registration office to get a new registration card. "I hope everybody else out there is as determined to vote as I was today", he said. Sanford's driver's license had a Columbia address, but Sanford was trying to vote at his home precinct in Sullivan's Island. According to WAGT in Augusta, Georgia (whose service area includes part of South Carolina) Sanford declared that it would be his last campaign.
In dissent with the Republican Party of South Carolina, Sanford, an Episcopalian, opposed the faith-based license plates his state offers, marketed largely to the state's conservative evangelical citizens. After allowing the law to pass without his signature, he wrote "It is my personal view that the largest proclamation of one's faith ought to be in how one lives his life."
After the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which Sanford strongly opposed and publicly criticized before and after its passage by Congress and presidential signing, Sanford initially indicated he might not accept all of the funds allotted by the spending law to South Carolina. He was criticized by many Democrats and some moderate Republicans both in his state and outside who noted South Carolina's 9.5% unemployment rate (one of the highest in the country) and complained that Sanford wasn't doing enough to improve economic conditions in his state which he was intentionally trying to worsen, which could be alleviated by the stimulus money.Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican Governor of California, suggested that if Sanford or other governors rejected their portion of stimulus funds, he would be happy to take them instead.
On March 11, 2009, Sanford became the first United States governor to formally reject a portion of the federal stimulus money earmarked by Congress for the state of South Carolina. Sanford compromised to accept the federal money on condition that the state legislature provide matching funds to pay down the South Carolina state debt.
Sanford persuaded state legislator Nikki Haley to run as his successor, and campaigned on her behalf.
The libertarianCato Institute ranked Sanford as the best governor in America in their 2010 fiscal policy report card, describing him as "a staunch supporter of spending restraint and pro-growth tax reforms".
In its April 2010 report, the Democratic-leaning watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Sanford one of eleven worst governors in the United States because of various ethics issues throughout Sanford's term as governor and his time in Congress.
Disappearance and extramarital affair
Main article: Mark Sanford disappearance and extramarital affair
From June 18 until June 24, 2009, the whereabouts of Sanford were unknown to the public, as well as to his wife and the State Law Enforcement Division, which provides security for him, garnering nationwide news coverage. The absence of Governor Sanford was first reported by Jim Davenport of the Associated Press.Lieutenant GovernorAndré Bauer announced that he could not "take lightly that his staff has not had communication with him for more than four days, and that no one, including his own family, knows his whereabouts."
Before his disappearance, Sanford told his staff that he would be hiking on the Appalachian Trail and while he was gone he did not answer 15 cell phone calls from his chief of staff Scott English; he also failed to call his family on Father's Day.
Reporter Gina Smith, of The State, the daily newspaper of the capital city, intercepted Sanford arriving at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport on a flight from Argentina. Several hours later, after learning that incriminating evidence was being swiftly mobilized against him by the media, Sanford held a news conference, during which he admitted to adultery.
In emotional interviews with the Associated Press over two days, Sanford said he would die "knowing that I had met my soul mate." Sanford also said that he "crossed the lines" with a handful of other women during 20 years of marriage, but not as far as he did with his mistress. "There were a handful of instances wherein I crossed the lines I shouldn't have crossed as a married man, but never crossed the ultimate line", he said.
On June 25, La Nación, a Buenos Aires newspaper, identified the Argentine woman as María Belén Chapur, a 43-year-old divorced mother of two with a university degree in international relations who lives in the city of Buenos Aires.The State earlier had published details of e-mails between Sanford and a woman only identified as "Maria." Sanford met Chapur at a dance in Uruguay in 2001 and admitted there was a more intimate relationship with her starting in 2008.
Sanford's wife had become aware of her husband's infidelities around five months before the scandal broke, and the two had sought marriage counseling. She said that she had requested a trial separation about two weeks before his disappearance.
Sanford told reporters that months before his affair became public he had sought counsel at a controversial religious organization called The Family, of which he became a member when he was a Representative in Washington, D.C. from 1995 to 2001.
Fallout from scandal
Sanford's wife, Jenny Sanford, after telling Vogue magazine that her husband was having a "midlife crisis", moved out of the South Carolina Governor's Mansion, with the couple's four sons, returning to the family home on Sullivan's Island. On December 11, 2009, she announced that she was filing for divorce, calling it a "sad and painful process." The divorce was finalized in March 2010. A stipulation within his divorce papers demanded that while on the Sanford family's Coosaw plantation, "no airplanes will be flown at children". The papers also noted that Sanford liked to "unwind" by digging holes on the property with his hydraulic excavator.
Sanford posted lengthy remarks on his Facebook page on September 12, 2014, regarding his ex-wife's "legal machinations surrounding the custody of their children". His remarks on Facebook are longer than the total of all his 2014 speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Also in September 2014, Sanford and his ex-wife agreed on mediation over an argument arising from their divorce in 2010. Sanford's former wife asked the judge to require the congressman to undergo a psychiatric exam and take parenting and anger management classes. Judge Daniel Martin Jr. said he instead ordered them to take the issues to mediation within 30 days, as requested by a motion filed by the congressman.
Resignation as Chairman of the RGA
Sanford resigned as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and he was swiftly succeeded by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. In a June 29 email to members of his political action committee, Sanford said he had no intention of resigning as governor.
Reimbursement for his private use of public funds
After his affair was revealed in June 2009, Sanford first claimed, "There's been a lot of speculation and innuendo on whether or not public moneys were used to advance my admitted unfaithfulness. To be very clear: no public money was ever used in connection with this." After a reporter used the Freedom of Information Act to seek records of what public funds were used to pay for Sanford's trip to Argentina, Sanford eventually chose to reimburse taxpayers for expenses he had incurred one year earlier with his mistress in Argentina. He said, "I made a mistake while I was there in meeting with the woman who I was unfaithful to my wife with. That has raised some very legitimate concerns and questions, and as such I am going to reimburse the state for the full cost of the Argentina leg of this trip." On August 9, 2009, the AP reported that Sanford may have violated state law by other abusive use of state planes, including to fly to get a haircut.
On August 25, state representatives Nathan Ballentine and Gary Simrill met with Sanford and warned him that the state legislature would impeach him if he did not resign. Ballentine, an ally of Sanford's, said afterward, "I told him the writing is on the wall. ...he could put an end to it all, but if he doesn't, members of the House will take things into their hands." Sanford still declined to resign. On August 28, The Washington Times reported that Republican lawmakers in South Carolina were "laying plans" for a special legislative session on whether to impeach Sanford. Two bills of impeachment were being prepared, with bipartisan support in the state legislature.
On October 23, 2009, two impeachment resolutions were introduced, but were blocked by Democrats in the South Carolina legislature. A month later, the resolution was successfully introduced and it was announced that an ad hoc committee would begin drafting articles of impeachment starting on November 24. Meanwhile, the Ethics Commission formally charged Sanford with 37 violations. making his removal or resignation all that more likely.
On December 3, during its third public hearing on the matter, the ad hoc committee unanimously voted to remove the vast majority of charges from the investigation, stating that they didn't warrant "overturning an election." On December 9, the committee voted 6–1 against impeachment, stating that the legislature had better things to do. However, the committee voted unanimously to censure the governor. On the 16th the full House Judiciary Committee voted 15–6 to formally end the process.
On December 15, 2009, the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to censure Sanford. The full South Carolina House of Representatives voted 102–11 on the resolution in January 2010.
Role in 2008 election
In 2006, before the midterm elections, some commentators discussed the possibility of Sanford running for president. He said that he would not run, and claimed that his re-election bid would be his last election, win or lose. After Super Tuesday in 2008, Sanford received some mention as a potential running mate for the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, John McCain.
Sanford publicly aligned himself with McCain in a March 15, 2008, piece in The Wall Street Journal. Likening the presidential race to a football game at halftime, Sanford noted that he "sat out the first half, not endorsing a candidate...But I'm now stepping onto the field and going to work to help John McCain. It's important that conservatives do the same."
On January 11, 2008, shortly before the South Carolina presidential primaries (R Jan 19, D Jan 26), Sanford published a guest column in the Columbia newspaper The State. In the article, "Obama's Symbolism Here", Sanford wrote, "I won't be voting for Barack Obama for president", but noted the "historical burden" borne by South Carolinians on the topic of race. He advised voters in South Carolina to take note of the symbolism of Obama's early success, with the knowledge that South Carolina was a segregated state less than fifty years earlier, and discouraged voting either for or against Obama on the basis of his race.
On a January 18, 2008 interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Sanford discussed his Obama article. Wolf Blitzer asked, "Give us your mind-set. Why did you think it was so important to write this piece right now at this critical moment?" Sanford responded, "Well, it plays into a larger conversation that we're having as a family of South Carolinians on, in fact, the [constitutional] structure of our government." Also, Wolf Blitzer showed Sanford clips of recent comments made by John McCain and Mike Huckabee about the Confederate battle flag and asked Sanford, "All right, two different positions, obviously. Who's right in this?" Sanford responded, "Well, it depends who you talk to." Sanford elaborated that "if you were to talk to the vast majority of South Carolinians, they would say that we do not need to be debating where the Confederate flag is or is not."
Sanford attracted derision in the liberalblogosphere and among pundits and analysts on the left for a gaffe during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on July 13, 2008, when he had difficulty answering a question about differences between Senator McCain and incumbent President George W. Bush on economic policy. "I'm drawing a blank, and I hate when I do that, especially on television", joked Sanford.
Possible 2012 candidacy
As early as January 2008, there had been anticipation that Sanford would run for President in 2012, and online support groups had sprung up on virtual social networks like Facebook in support of a Sanford ticket.
Further boosting Sanford's profile in advance of a potential candidacy, which at the time the governor neither ruled out nor expressly hinted at, he was elected as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association in November 2008 and was cited by Michael S. Steele, the Chairman of the Republican Party as one of four "rising stars" in the GOP (alongside Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Sarah Palin of Alaska) in February 2009. Sanford also received early support for a presidential run from the Republican Liberty Caucus.
On February 22, 2009, Sanford declined to rule out a possible presidential bid in 2012, though he professed to have no current plans to run for national office.
Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza said that the revelation of the extramarital affair in June 2009 ended Sanford's chances of being a serious candidate in 2012.
On January 4, 2010, Sanford admitted, "If there's anything that's abundantly clear, it's that I ain't running for president." In the same Republican meeting, he also indicated that he would enter the private sector after his last 11 months as governor.
Following completion of his service as governor in January 2011, Sanford moved to his family farm in Beaufort County, South Carolina, and later moved to a condominium in Charleston, South Carolina. He has described this as a very quiet and spiritual time, and developed a Buddhist/Christian life approach including a daily quiet time, practicing mindfulness, and emphasising everyone's 'shared human experience.'
In October 2011, Sanford was hired as a paid political contributor for Fox News Channel. In August 2012, Sanford became engaged to his former mistress, Maria Belen Chapur. The engagement was subsequently broken off in September 2014.
Return to the U.S. House of Representatives
2013 Congressional special election
Main article: South Carolina's 1st congressional district special election, 2013
In December 2012, CNN reported that Sanford was considering a bid to retake his congressional seat. The previous holder, fellow Republican Tim Scott, had been appointed to the United States Senate by Governor Nikki Haley after the resignation of Senator Jim DeMint. On December 22, 2012, Sanford sent an email to supporters, confirming rumors that he intended to run for Congress in 2013.
Sanford formally launched his bid for Congress in early 2013. He quickly became a front-runner in a crowded field of 16 Republican candidates, because of his name recognition.
On April 2, 2013, Sanford won his Republican House primary runoff against Curtis Bostic, a former Charleston County councilman. The special election was held on May 7, 2013 and Sanford defeated Democratic Party Candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
On April 17, 2013, the National Republican Congressional Committee pulled support from the Sanford campaign in the wake of revelations that Jenny Sanford had filed a trespassing complaint against him on February 4. According to the complaint, Jenny Sanford had caught her former husband sneaking out of her home in Sullivan's Island, using his cellphone as a flashlight. Under the terms of their divorce agreement, neither Mark nor Jenny Sanford may come to the other's house without permission—a condition Jenny Sanford alleged that Mark Sanford had flouted on numerous occasions despite Jenny Sanford filing a "no trespass" letter with the Sullivan's Island Police Department. In a statement, Mark Sanford admitted that he'd gone to the house to watch the second half of Super Bowl XLVII with his son. He claimed to have tried to contact Jenny beforehand, but was unable to do so. Jenny Sanford filed the complaint the next morning. Several Republican operatives said that they were upset Sanford had known about this complaint for some time and failed to disclose it.
Sanford was endorsed by FreedomWorks,South Carolina GovernorNikki Haley,U.S. Representative and House SpeakerJohn Boehner,State SenatorTom Davis, former South Carolina State TreasurerThomas Ravenel, perennial candidate Ben Frasier, former U.S. Representative from TexasRon Paul and his son, U.S. Senator from KentuckyRand Paul., and on May 1, 2013, U.S. Senator and former U.S. RepresentativeTim Scott and U.S. SenatorLindsey Graham endorsed Sanford.
PornographerLarry Flynt also endorsed him, saying "His open embrace of his mistress in the name of love, breaking his sacred marriage vows, was an act of bravery that has drawn my support."
On May 7, 2013, Sanford was once again elected to the U.S. House of Representatives with 54.04% of the vote, defeating Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of late-night television personality Stephen Colbert.
Sanford was unopposed for re-election in 2014. In 2016, Sanford was renominated by the Republican Party for another Congressional term, defeating his sole primary opponent, Jenny Horne, with 55.61% of the vote, and in the November general election was re-elected by a margin of 58.56% to a total of 36.83% for his major opponent, Dimitri Cherry, who was nominated on the lines of the Democratic, Working Families and Green Parties, as South Carolina is one of the states practicing electoral fusion. (Other candidates received approximately 4.6% of the vote.) 
Sanford was sworn-in on May 15, 2013.
On June 5, 2014, Sanford introduced the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 4803; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review the data and methods that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uses to classify personnel as law enforcement officers and to reclassify, as necessary, any staff of the Office of Inspection that are currently misclassified according to the results of that review. Sanford said that "even though there are federal standards in place that lay out how employees qualify for higher wages, the Transportation Security Administration pays some of their employees more for jobs they're not doing. That wouldn't make sense anywhere outside of government and our bill would help fix that problem by clarifying those employees' responsibilities." According to Sanford, accurately reclassifying employees who do not spent at least 50 percent of the time on law enforcement activities and putting them on an accurate pay scale would save the government $17 million a year.
Sanford critiqued President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to temporarily curtail Muslim immigration until better screening methods are devised. He stated that “I’m hearing a voice of concern that things are moving from weird to reckless in their view. And that even if you’re going to enact this policy, the way in which it was done just seems bizarre.”
In February/March 2017, Sanford signed a letter to urge Congress to request Donald Trump's tax returns so that they can be reviewed in a closed session of Congress and determined whether the returns can be released to the public.
On May 4, 2017, he voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and pass the American Health Care Act.
In 2000 Sanford's first book, The Trust Committed To Me, was published. It discussed term limits, and featured a foreword by Robert Novak. A second book, titled Within Our Means, was scheduled to be published by Sentinel in 2010: however the contract was terminated by mutual agreement after the revelation of Sanford's extramarital affair.
Sanford is also the subject of a book by his longtime speechwriter, Barton Swaim, titled The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics.
|1994||Robert A. Barber Jr.||47,769||32%||Mark Sanford||97,803||66%||Robert Payne||Libertarian||1,836||1%||*|
|1996||(no candidate)||Mark Sanford||138,467||96%||Joseph F. Innella||Natural Law||5,105||4%|
|1998||(no candidate)||Mark Sanford||118,414||91%||Joseph F. Innella||Natural Law||11,586||9%||*|
|2013||Elizabeth Colbert-Busch||64,818||45.2%||Mark Sanford||77,466||54.0%||Eugene Platt||Green Party||690||0.5%||*|
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1994, write-ins received 63 votes. In 1998, write-ins received 71 votes. In 2013, write-ins received 383 votes.
|Democratic||Jim Hodges (Incumbent)||518,310||47.3|
|Republican||Mark Sanford (Incumbent)||601,868||55.1||+2.2|