Sanford’s “Spiritual Giant”

Who is Cubby Culbertson?

Also in Slate: William Saletan on Sanford’s surprisingly honest confession. John Dickerson on the disturbing glee at Sanford’s downfall. Plus: A guide to politicians’ reactions to sex scandals.

Near the end of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s jarringly open confessional press conference Wednesday, as the event deteriorated into a storm of questions, interruptions, and half-answers, Sanford paused to give a shout-out. “I see Cubby Culbertson in the back of the room,” Sanford said. “I would consider him a spiritual giant.” Someone tried to interrupt him, but Sanford pressed on: “And an incredibly dear friend. And he has been helping us work through this over these last five months. And Cubby, I want to say thank you for being there as a friend.”

So, who is this spiritual giant who for five months has been advising the governor? Warren “Cubby” Culbertson is a pillar of the Christian community in South Carolina’s capital, a Bible study leader and Sunday school teacher who owns a court reporting business.

Culbertson helped form a men’s Bible study group with the help of good friend Bill Jones, the president of the evangelical college Columbia International University. (A collection of “Cubby’s Talks” can be found here.) The group, called the Round Table, meets weekly in Culbertson’s Columbia office. For about eight years, it has attracted some of Columbia’s top professionals, including, briefly, Sanford.

Sanford attended the Round Table meetings twice in the last few years, and as a result of those meetings, Culbertson became a part of Sanford’s life in a “counselor” capacity, according to another of the group’s founding members, Columbia attorney Bill Short. But he’s a longtime supporter of the politician. In 1998, years before the Round Table held its first meeting, Culbertson donated $250 to the Sanford for Congress campaign, according to campaign records.

Culbertson is also an occasional teacher at Christ Church of the Carolinas. His podcasts on the Book of James are available online.

Additional reporting contributed by Inci Atrek, Lydia DePillis, and Jeremy Singer-Vine. 

AP Video: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford Admits Affair