Former governor and current congressional candidate Mark Sanford has been on the receiving end of plenty of jokes in recent years. The billboard on I-26 in Columbia (pictured) would seem to be another one.
It was purchased by the website ashleymadison.com which "is the world's leading married dating service for discreet encounters."
But Noel Biderman, the CEO of Ashley Madison, told Patch the advertisement isn't meant to lampoon Sanford's extramarital affair at all. Quite the opposite. Biderman said he thinks the public is not served well when it considers personal matters for professional decisions.
Biderman said public officials are elected on the basis of their professional skills and those skills don't disappear as a result of an affair. The idea that they do, he said, "is a ridiculously strange notion."
Biderman told Patch that while Sanford's affair should be dismissed as a factor for voters, his use of public funds to conduct the affair should not. "That's something that they need to consider," he said.
"If we removed everyone from office who had an affair, we'd lose some of our greatest leaders," Biderman said. "Clinton, Petraeus, Schwarzenegger...Sanford is in good company. I really hope he wins."
A Sanford victory Biderman said, we be another dent in the institution of marriage, which he thinks is a good thing. Biderman pointed to how views of interracial marriage and now gay marriage have changed in recent decades to support his claim. He thinks the idea of traditional marriage itself could become antiquated and a Sanford victory would be another step in that direction.
Election Day in SC1 is May 7.