WASHINGTON (CNN) – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's federal security clearance was wrongly suspended by a Department of Homeland Security employee in the days following the governor's admission of an extramarital affair, department officials confirmed Friday.
Sanford's security privileges were suspended on Wednesday, July 1, according to DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Sean Smith. Smith would not identify the employee who suspended Sanford's security clearance, or say why the action was taken.
But the suspension came just one week after the governor emerged from a mysterious absence and revealed his relationship with an Argentine woman.
The employee sent a letter to Sanford notifying him of the suspension, but Sanford likely did not receive the letter until Monday, July 6, the end of the long holiday weekend, Smith said. On that same day, Sanford met in Charleston with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a pre-scheduled meeting focused on port security.
The following day - July 7 - senior DHS officials learned that Sanford's status had been suspended and immediately moved to restore it, the DHS said.
DHS spokeswoman Sara Kuban said the employee who suspended Sanford's security clearance "acted on their own volition."
"That employee did not follow the proper procedures or check with their supervisor about issuing the suspension," Kuban said. "The same day that senior DHS officials learned of the suspension, it was immediately reversed and the clearance was reinstated."
A Homeland Security official wrote to Sanford on July 7 to inform him that his security clearance had been restored.
"The suspension of your clearance was made in error," DHS Personnel Security Division chief Katherine Janosek wrote in the letter to Sanford, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.
DHS officials declined to say what if any action had been taken against the employee.
Sanford's office said Friday that none of the governor's official duties - including his tour of the security project in Charleston - were affected by the security snafu.