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Extramarital Dating Billboard Features Sanford

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File photo of former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford. (Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GettyImages)

File photo of former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford. (Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GettyImages)

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A website that connects people seeking casual and extramarital affairs started running a billboard this week that features the face of former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

The ad that went up Monday on Interstate 26 near Columbia features the Republican’s smiling face and the words, “Next time use … AshleyMadison.com to find your ‘running mate.’”

AshleyMadison.com touts itself online as “the most famous name in infidelity and married dating.” Founder Noel Biderman told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his Toronto-based company launched the ad to coincide with the former Republican governor’s campaign for the 1st Congressional District, saying that Sanford is a veritable poster child for his company’s premise.

“He represents what we have been articulating for the past decade, which is, what happens in someone’s personal life, that’s their personal choice — it doesn’t mean that they’re not able to govern,” Biderman said. “Just because they’re not capable of monogamy doesn’t mean that they’re not capable of leading.”

Voters will choose between Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a May 7 special election for the seat recently vacated by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

Sanford admitted in 2009 to an affair with an Argentine woman to whom he is now engaged. He has spoken of his missteps frequently, saying that he believes in “a God of second chances” and hopes voters do, too.

AshleyMadison.com, which has about 12 million U.S. users, used a photo of Sanford found on Wikipedia.org for the billboard. Biderman said he received no response from a text message sent to the candidate on Monday letting Sanford know about the ad.

The billboard, which is on the interstate about 25 miles south of Columbia, isn’t in the 1st District. But Biderman said other ads might pop up in days to come, declining to give details. Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said the Republican’s campaign was more focused on its election with Colbert Busch that is now just a week away.

A spokesman for Colbert Busch’s campaign didn’t immediately return a message, and Biderman said his company had had no contact with the Democrat.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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