By Christina Wilkie - 09/23/09 10:44 PM EDT
According to South Carolina Republican Party insiders, Sanford is extremely frugal.
“Mark was so cheap that when Jenny became first lady, she had to borrow dresses from her sisters to wear to the inauguration!” said one source close to the couple who spoke on background to ITK.
Jenny Sanford has been separated from her husband, Gov. Mark Sanford (R), since early July, when he confessed to an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman. News of her book deal with Ballantine Books was reported on Tuesday, and South Carolina political circles are rife with speculation about what the memoir will reveal.
“I wasn’t surprised at all [to learn of the book],” said former South Carolina state GOP Chairman Katon Dawson. “It’s a natural progression, knowing her and knowing how competent and smart she is.”
Jenny Sanford has never been published before, and the search is under way for a co-writer.
But Dawson stressed that Jenny Sanford will be the lead writer.
“Jenny will be involved every step of the way, and there won’t be a comma or a period she hasn’t personally read and approved.”
In addition to her marital troubles, the memoir will cover Sanford’s early life, her career as a Wall Street executive and her occasionally difficult transition into the role of Southern political spouse.
Insiders say the book will likely hit shelves before Gov. Sanford’s term expires late next year.
“This is all part of the rehabilitation process,” said a former campaign adviser. “Jenny is an unsung hero, and this book is a personal story of pain. It’s not a feminist statement. Frankly, I’ve never seen someone as loyal to her husband as Jenny has been to Mark, and this is what it’s left her with. It’s just a tragedy.”
The first lady and her four sons moved out of the governor’s mansion in late August, and insiders say the Sanfords’ marriage is effectively over. Facing the possibility of life as a single parent with four children enrolled in private schools, the income from a major book deal could be very appealing to Jenny Sanford.
Ballantine declined to reveal what it paid for the rights to the memoir, but following the commercial success earlier this year of another betrayed political spouse’s memoir, Elizabeth Edwards’s Resilience, a multimillion-dollar contract would not be out of the question.
A spokesman for Gov. Sanford declined to comment.
Take them out to the ballgame
It’s no secret: the Washington Nationals are miserable. And not surprisingly, they’re not setting any attendance records this year.
But unlike other cities, the Nationals have a built-in fan base: politicians.
The ballpark was a popular destination for fundraisers this year, and dozens of lawmakers spent literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on tickets.
The list of baseball fans on Capitol Hill is long and distinguished: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.); House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio); Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).
All of them took in a Nats game with supporters this summer, though it’s doubtful any of the lawmakers were rooting for the home team.
(A Durbin spokesman confirms that his boss chose his game wisely: The Chicago Cubs beat the Nats 6-2 on the day he attended.)
A visit from the Boston Red Sox provided a big boon. Not only did the Nationals record huge attendance during the three-game series, but Reps. Michael Capuano, Richard Neal, Stephen Lynch and Niki Tsongas — all Massachusetts Democrats — each held a fundraiser during the series.
(Capuano needs the money the most — he’s running to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.)
All told, campaigns and political action committees have spent more than $200,000 on tickets to Nationals games, according to Federal Election Commission data.
That number could double before the season is over: Reports showing ticket purchases extend only to the end of June for lawmakers’ campaigns. When new reports come in after the close of the third quarter, at the end of September, the Nationals may prove to have reaped hundreds of thousands more in campaign bucks.
Advice to congressional spouses: Don’t let resentment build up
When Simone Marie Meeks arrived in Washington with her husband Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) in 1998, four fellow spouses sat her down and gave her some good advice.
“They said to me, ‘Don’t feel like you have to like every part of this life. Because you don’t. No one does. All you have to do is draw your boundaries quickly and hold to them. If you don’t like something, say it right away. Don’t ever let resentment build up.’ ”
Good advice indeed: Ten years later, Meeks is the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses, which on Wednesday hosts the kickoff party for the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation’s annual leadership conference.
“My goal is to raise scholarship funds for CBC programs; we award more than 50 unique scholarships a year, for students in everything from the performing arts to online universities,” said Meeks of the fundraiser, which will be held in the marble atrium of the National Museum for Women in the Arts.
Meeks lives in New York and works full time for the New York Academy of Medicine, so the decision to take on a leadership role was a significant investment of time and travel.
“There was a time when congressional spouses went to Washington with their husband and supported them full time,” she recalled, “and those women raised some outstanding people, like Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. [D-Ill.], Rep. Kendrick Meek [D-Fla.] and [former Rep.] Harold Ford [D-Tenn.], but those days are over.”
Meeks recounts how, as a little girl, she told her family she planned to be the first black female member of Congress. When she learned, two days before her wedding to Gregory, that he would be running for office, she was crushed. “It was like God played a cruel joke on me.”