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1 S C governor on Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:39 am



.C. governor to return to work Wednesday
Sanford leaves state leaders in dark as he goes on secretive hike

Why did South Carolina governor disappear?
June 23: After being out of contact for four days, aides now say South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was just out hiking on the Appalachian Trail. NBC’s Mike Viqueira reports.

Why did South Carolina governor disappear?
June 23: After being out of contact for four days, aides now say South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was just out hiking on the Appalachian Trail. NBC’s Mike Viqueira reports.

Where in the world is Gov. Mark Sanford?

updated 2 hours ago

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says the Republican checked in with his staff and was surprised by the attention given to his secretive vacation.

Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer says the governor called his chief of staff Tuesday morning. His last known contact with staff was five days earlier.

Sawyer says the governor was taken aback by the interest his trip to the Appalachian Trail has garnered. Sawyer says the governor decided that with all the attention he'd return to his office Wednesday.
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The dayslong absence by South Carolina's governor left fellow state leaders scratching their heads.

The lieutenant governor couldn't figure out where Gov. Mark Sanford was. Calls from a state senator and close friend rolled to voice mail.

Sanford's wife told The Associated Press on Monday that she hadn't seen him in several days and didn't know where he was. First lady Jenny Sanford said the father of four left before the Father's Day weekend to get away from their children and write.

The explanation came Monday night from his spokesman: The second-term chief executive was hiking along the Appalachian Trail "to kind of clear his head after the legislative session."

That session included his losing fight to reject $700 million in federal stimulus cash that Sanford eventually accepted under duress and a court order.

‘Avid outdoorsman’
The Republican governor left town on Thursday, his spokesman Joel Sawyer said, with plans to hike the trail, which passes through 14 states but not South Carolina. Sawyer said he didn't know where exactly Sanford was along the 2,200-mile route and declined to discuss if anyone was hiking with him. The governor was expected back later this week.

"He's an avid outdoorsman," Sawyer said. "Nobody's ever accused our governor of being conventional."

While other governors eagerly gobbled up federal stimulus money to fill budget holes, Sanford has railed against President Barack Obama's $787 billion bailout package. It left him dealing with protests at home, where educators predicted massive teacher layoffs without it. Sanford, who's also chairman of the Republican Governors Association, wanted to use it only to pay down debt.

Who’s in charge?
His absence has drawn more criticism. Some questioned who was in charge of South Carolina if he couldn't be reached. The National Guard and the state's top law enforcement agencies report to him, said Senate Minority Leader John Land, D-Manning.

Lt. Gov. Andrew Bauer said he'd been rebuffed by the governor's staff when he tried to find out where Sanford was and had not been put in charge in his absence.

"I cannot take lightly that his staff has not had communication with him for more than four days, and that no one, including his own family, knows his whereabouts," said Bauer.

Where in the world is Gov. Mark Sanford?
June 22: Gov. Mark Sanford, R-SC, was last seen on Thursday. Aides say he’s in an undisclosed location, but even his wife doesn’t know his whereabouts. Rachel Maddow is joined by John O’Connor, political reporter for The State newspaper.


Sawyer said if there was an emergency, the office would consult with other state officials before making any decisions.

"We knew he would be difficult to reach, and that he would be checking in infrequently," Sawyer said in a statement.

But Carol Fowler, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, said the governor was "irresponsible" for being inaccessible.

"I don't begrudge the governor vacation time," Fowler said Tuesday morning. "But they need to make certain their duties are taken care of while they're gone."

Jenny Sanford said Monday she had not spoken with her husband for several days, including Father's Day. The Sanfords have four sons.

"He was writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids," she told The Associated Press while vacationing at the family's Sullivans Island beach house. A message left for her wasn't returned after the governor's hiking plans were disclosed.

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"It's one thing for the boys to go off by themselves, but on Father's Day to leave your family behind? That's erratic," Land said. "And when those officials can't get in touch with the commander, it's really weird. That's not responsible."

Sanford is known for taking walks and runs without security, but flight logs show he seldom leaves the state without it. His security team wouldn't comment. And Sanford's office normally makes no secret of time he spends on vacation or out of state.

Sen. Jake Knotts, a Lexington Republican and a persistent Sanford critic, said the state needs to know where its governor is.
The way things are in the world today and homeland security, we need the governor to be fingertips away," Knotts said.

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