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South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Along with Nevada Sen. John Ensign and former Mississippi Rep. Chip Pickering, he was a one-time resident of DC Christian fellowship house; all three are now involved in admitted or alleged extramarital affairs.
It's not just hypocrisy; it's an orgy of hypocrisy. The soon-to-be-ex-wife of former Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS) filed suit this week against the woman she claims helped wreck her marriage. Leisha Pickering charges that Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd, an old college flame of Chip's, restarted their relationship during his marriage. Leisha claims that was one of the causes of the break-up. As it happens Chip Pickering and Creekmore Byrd now work for the same telecom firm.
This would all be a nice bit of he-said/she-said rhetoric that inevitably happens when a marriage breaks up, except for one rather nice fact:
Leisha Pickering alleges that Creekmore Byrd’s ”extramarital relationship” with Chip Pickering began again while he was "a United States congressman prior to and while living in the well-known C Street Complex in Washington, D.C.”
Chip Pickering, like Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, has lived in a Christian fellowship home on C Street. Both Ensign and Sanford have been the subjects of adultery scandals in recent weeks. Ensign had an eight-month affair with a former campaign aide, Cindy Hampton, and he resigned his leadership post after admitting to the relationship. Sanford secretly left the United States to met his Argentine mistress, setting off a national furor over his disappearance.
Sanford lived at the "Christian fellowship home" during his four-term tenure in the House. Ensign, a member of the faith-declaring Promise Keepers, lived there for some time. Now Pickering is connected. All three are social conservative Republicans. Apparently, with the GOP, the party that prays together also apparently strays together.
Making matters worse, this story broke just as the Sanford infidelity re-surfaced. Politico reported that the supposedly fiscally conservative Sanford didn't mind flying high on the public dime for not much care given to cost-controls:
The records detail more than $468,000 worth of state-funded travel for Sanford and show that he routinely billed taxpayers for high-end airline seats, racking up more than $44,000 on business- and first-class tickets. He often stayed in pricey hotels that far exceeded the rates he imposed on other state employees.
On one overseas trip, the state appears to have spent more than $12,000 for the GOP governor’s business-class tickets for a September 2007 trade mission to China, while his aides flew in economy class for airfares as low as $1,900.
The records, released to POLITICO and a handful of other media outlets under the state’s Freedom of Information Act, cover commercial airline trips to destinations including Paris, Beijing, Stockholm, Munich and London, as well as state plane flights that carried him, his family, friends and staff around the state and country. They do not detail the costs of every international trade mission Sanford participated in, and, in some cases, the documents are incomplete or difficult to decipher.
"Incomplete or difficult to decipher"? Accidentally, of course. This, of course, suggests that Sanford's hypocrisy was not limited to his marriage vows.
Meanwhile, what was revealed recently that the other philandering Fellowshipper, John Ensign? It was his parents who coughed up the nearly $100,000 to help prop up Ensign's mistress and her husband -- both of whom worked for Ensign in different capacities -- when they had to quit their jobs when the affair spilled out in the open.
When your parents bail you out of a situation created by your extramarital affairs, it becomes pretty clear that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
As the old saying goes, "Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence --three times is a trend." Christian "fellowship" house? Or Grand Old Party Animal House!