SC governor plans to return Wednesday

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 10:19 AM
Last updated 12:25 PM
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COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford will cut short a secretive Appalachian Trail hike and return to work Wednesday after revelations he'd been gone for four days with no contact with his staff, wife or state leaders.

"Governor Sanford called to check in with his chief of staff this morning," Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said Tuesday in a statement. "It would be fair to say the governor was somewhat taken aback by all of the interest this trip has gotten. Given the circumstances and the attention this has garnered, the governor communicated to us that he plans on returning to the office tomorrow."

The Republican governor hadn't spoken with his staff since last Thursday. He left the state on what Sawyer called a routine post legislative vacation to unwind.

His absence left fellow state leaders scratching their heads.

The lieutenant governor couldn't figure out where Sanford was. Calls from a state senator and close friend rolled to voice mail. Even his wife said she hadn't talked to him for several days.

The explanation came late 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."

The Republican governor left town on Thursday, 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.

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

He left a couple of days after the Legislature adjourned after overriding his 10 vetoes and winning a court battle to force Sanford to request $700 million in federal stimulus cash.

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.

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. Andre 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.

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.

"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.

Comments (14) Add comment
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jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 06/23/09 - 11:09 am
0
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lol

lol

pizzato
3
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pizzato 06/23/09 - 11:29 am
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On naked hiking day. Too bad

On naked hiking day. Too bad he wasn't found floating in a marsh somewhere that [filtered word] should be put down like a rabid dog.

Riverman1
83421
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Riverman1 06/23/09 - 03:32 pm
0
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The Lt Gov is going to catch

The Lt Gov is going to catch it too for his comments.

Riverman1
83421
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Riverman1 06/23/09 - 03:58 pm
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Gov Sanford's wife supported

Gov Sanford's wife supported the opponent of the Lt. Gov.

YellowHammer
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YellowHammer 06/23/09 - 05:19 pm
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I love Gov. Sanford and agree

I love Gov. Sanford and agree with his politics 99.9% of the time. But I have to admit, unless there's a whole lot more explanation; this is the kind of thing that's a little too off the wall.
I can get away with stuff like this, but not the chief executive of a state.(or of anybody seeking even higher office)
I'm hoping he comes back tomorrow with a great story that makes everybody feel like fools for overspeculating. I hope.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 06/23/09 - 05:40 pm
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This is the most stupid AP

This is the most stupid AP story I've ever read. The number of fools that fall for this spin is even more amazing. Our government schools have little to be proud of, if their goal was graduates able to reason. How many other legislators didn't check in with the AP during the summer break? Why no big panic over them? Could it be they're not in session? This stupid spin story is a foundation to a future extended attack on Sanford. We expect Dems to fall for it, it's what they do, but to have ANY thinking person fall for it? By definition, this didn't happen.

DEVGRU
0
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DEVGRU 06/23/09 - 07:29 pm
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I wish I was on the

I wish I was on the Appalachian Trail right now.

colcamp1
10
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colcamp1 06/23/09 - 07:52 pm
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I wonder who paid for this

I wonder who paid for this trip? We expect Patricia Thomas to cover for him. To have any thing person to not question this, especially considering S.C. budget short fall or did he use some Stimulus Money?

RichmondCountyResident1
29
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RichmondCountyResident1 06/23/09 - 09:24 pm
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Pat, what planet are you

Pat, what planet are you living on? This kind of action is unexcusable. You are the typical Southern Strategy victim.You will stand by Republicans, no matter what.Tell us what school you attended?A right wing parrot!!!

lowellbrown
4
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lowellbrown 06/23/09 - 09:30 pm
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The good news is, he is safe.

The good news is, he is safe. The bad news is, he is still governor for awhile. The best news is, the Palmetto State will survive Governor Sanford, as it has survived other catastrophes.

guess who
0
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guess who 06/23/09 - 09:41 pm
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he should have stay gone.

he should have stay gone.

robaroo
730
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robaroo 06/23/09 - 09:49 pm
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I've been a backpacker since

I've been a backpacker since I was 16, and I've hiked big sections of the AT in the South. I'm ready to move to South Carolina so I can vote for Governor Sanford. If you've ever stood on top of Roan Mountain, drinking fresh spring water, and trying to stay warm in the wind, you know exactly why the governor went.

KSL
128644
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KSL 06/24/09 - 01:19 am
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colcamp1, if you are

colcamp1, if you are wondering how much this hiking trip cost, I'm wondering if you wondered how much any of Obama's trips cost. HE took one officer with him. Geeze. You are too stupid to even mention that.

mable8
2
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mable8 06/24/09 - 02:03 am
0
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So the governor took a

So the governor took a vacaation--and a well earned one at that. What's the problem? Shouldn't he have time to himself for a change?

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