June 22nd, 2009
09:25 PM ET
10 years ago

South Carolina governor goes missing

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/11/art.sanfordpt0311.gi.jpg caption="South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has mysteriously stepped out of the public eye."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - After a bruising session with the state legislature, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has mysteriously stepped out of the public eye.

Even his wife, Jenny, said Monday that she didn’t know where the governor was, according to the Associated Press. But Sanford's office expressed no concern Monday afternoon about his absence.

Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said Sanford “put in a lot of time during this last legislative session, and after the session winds down it's not uncommon for him to go out of pocket for a few days at a time to clear his head.”

However, Sawyer added in a statement sent to CNN: “Obviously, that's going to be somewhat out of the question this time given the attention this particular absence has gotten. Before leaving last week, he let staff know his whereabouts and that he'd be difficult to reach. Should any emergencies arise between the times in which he checks in, our staff would obviously be in contact with other state officials as the situation warrants before making any decisions.”

Earlier in the day, Sawyer said Sanford had simply taken some time away from work to “recharge after the stimulus battle.” Sawyer did not address Jenny Sanford’s comments to the AP in either statement.

State Sen. Jake Knotts, a fellow Republican and opponent of Sanford, told CNN that South Carolina law enforcement officials informed him Saturday that the governor had taken a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division vehicle on Thursday and had not yet returned.

"I found out that he was taking frequent trips at odd times of the night in a SLED car with no security," Knotts said. "He would be driving. I got wind that he had taken another one of these types of capers last Thursday, and that nobody knew who he was with.

Knotts added: "On Saturday, I still was getting wind that he had not shown back up and nobody knew where he was."

Knotts said a SLED official told him on Monday that Sanford still had not returned.

"He needs to transfer the power and let the lieutenant governor, which the constitution requires, let him be the person that makes the decisions." Knotts said. "My concern was 'Who would be in charge should an emergency arrive for the safety of the people and citizens of the state?'"

State Senate Minority Leader John Land, a Democrat, accused Sanford of engaging in "erratic" behavior.

"We've been concerned by the governor's erratic behavior for some time," Land said in a prepared statement. "We're praying for him and his family. I hope he is safe and that he contacts the First Lady and his family soon."

Filed under: Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. Republicans are the American Taliban

    He's in an airport restroom with the rest of the Republicans

    June 22, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  2. Judy from PA

    It is really sad to me that this is news, when people are dying in the streets of Iran and our President doesn't have the backbone to even make a statement one way or another. People are dying, it's not about politics. America is supposed to stand up for what is right.

    June 22, 2009 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  3. John P in CA

    I can not believe all of the opposing opinions on this story – politics has nothing to do with it...don't the folks of SC think this guy is weird?

    I would be concerned if my barber acted in such a strange manner. How can they not know where he is? He is a state governor! Where are the FBI?

    I guess Arnold isn't that wacky after all.

    June 22, 2009 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  4. Lauren

    Something ain't right with this situation.

    June 22, 2009 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  5. jon,philadelphia

    Who cares. He's just a political opportunist who won't be mised. I mean, I wish him no ill, but the state seems to functioning quite well without him.

    June 22, 2009 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  6. mk

    Sanford's story about hiking the Appalacian Trail is so ridiculous, it would be crazy to expect people to believe it.

    Sanford took a state SUV with no camping gear for at least a week? Think of all that would be necessary for this trip. Cell phone usage shows that he was somewhere near Atlanta after leaving. You do not go to the Appalacian trail from Columbia, SC through Atlanta. There are many direct routes from Columbia. He would have driven hundreds of miles out of his way.

    If he were just going hiking – why has he been gone almost a whole week with no camping gear? Has he called his wife and children? Why didn't he give his state the respect to let them know he would be gone a few days – as he is 'governor'?

    June 22, 2009 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  7. Jennifer

    The guy went to go spend a few days in nature to decompress after handling some understandably high-stress matters. His staff and family knew he was on the Appalachian Trail, not just each specific leg. Big deal. When you go hiking or camping, do you keep 200 people informed everytime you've moved a foot?

    Everyone gets a vacation. Leave him alone and stop turning situations like this into an excuse for a name-calling exchange or political diatribe. And if you seriously think this indicated some sort of mental breakdown (which it clearly wasn't), then at least attempt to be gracious and caring in expressing your concerns for his whereabouts.

    June 23, 2009 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  8. Chris C

    I'm up here in New Jersey and I'd rather be in South Carolina, particularly Hilton Head. South Carolina is a great state with a good Governor. Politics is a dirty business. And I'm glad to see Governor Sanford is his own person. At least he doesn't need hundreds of body guards like Jon Corzine or Barack Obama!

    June 23, 2009 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  9. Wondering in SC

    Seems he is irresponsible. need to let people especiall y his wife know where he is. Is there a reason he did not or is he afraind of something?

    June 23, 2009 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  10. Legal

    For all you haters (libs) that spewed your hate about this man you look like a bunch of idiots drinking the koolaid once again. This mans whereabouts were known all along just not by those that didn't have the need to know. Get over yourselves!

    June 23, 2009 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  11. simpleminded

    Gop wants another absent President again, wasn't Bush enough!

    June 23, 2009 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  12. What do you expect

    Bush spent more time on vacation than any President in history. 50% of his administration to be exact. The fact that he's hiding out from his family to...screams that he's up to something he doesn't want anybody to find out about.

    June 23, 2009 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  13. goobs

    So the governor goes "missing" to "recharge after the stimulus battle"?...and even his wife and kids did not know his whereabouts?
    Sounds like he took a page out of Senator Ensign's playbook.

    Oh yeah, Happy Father's Day Gov'na.

    June 23, 2009 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
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