Joel Sawyer, the man who stood between South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and a bewildered press corps in the days after the revelation of Sanford’s extramarital affair, has launched his own political consulting firm. New Level Strategies will focus on media strategy, message development and, of course, crisis management.

Sawyer’s well-timed (and likely lucrative) decision to get off Sanford’s sinking ship makes him this month’s Mover and Shaker. In his interview with Politics, Sawyer talks about his decision to leave the governor’s office and how the P.R. nightmare he endured better equipped him to launch his own firm.

“As painful as it has been at times, it’s an experience you can’t buy,” Sawyer told Politics. “And it’s a skill set you can’t learn from a book. So I think it has given me a great deal of credibility on the crisis management side going forward.”  

Sawyer didn’t have a bad word for his former boss, but says the Sanford saga offers an all-important lesson in crisis communications: “Every situation is different, but ideally you just want to be able to tell your story one time and be done with it.”

Read the full interview with Joel Sawyer here.

Shane D’Aprile is senior editor at Politics magazine. He can be reached at sdaprile@politicsmagazine.com