June 23rd, 2009
07:08 PM ET
12 years ago

SC Lt Gov: Sanford will have to answer questions

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer told CNN earlier this afternoon that Gov. Mark Sanford's political views had potentially put him at serious risk, and made his decision to cut off communication for several days a particularly unwise one.

Sanford has tangled with Democrats and fellow Republicans in his state over spending, and whether to accept stimulus funds from the federal government.

"I am not here to judge our governor. I think more than anything I think a lot of people are concerned about his safety," said Bauer, who is also a Republican and is likely to run for governor himself in 2010.

"Someone as high-profile as the governor is, someone that has been as outspoken as he is about policy and reducing the size of government, there's a lot of people who know who he is. There are a lot of people who would not favor his politics. And we know there are many individuals out there who are unstable that would like to make a name for themselves by approaching someone in a high-profile position, and that's why people that are governors of states have security, and so for him to not even be known what state he is in, concerns us.

"Clearly there are probably instances where he can be by himself," he said. "But they need to know where he is and how to get in touch with him, and need to be able to check on him. And for this length of time I think it concerns a lot of people that I talk to that they weren't able to get in touch with him and they were concerned with his safety."

He repeated claims that Sanford's office had inaccurately told him they were in touch with the governor at a time when they were unsure of his whereabouts.

"Yesterday morning my chief-of-staff was told that in fact they had talked to him. Yesterday afternoon they issued a press release saying they had not talked to him since Thursday. And so we got conflicting stories," he said. "And so last night I asked the chief-of-staff have you talked to him, and they told me no. And I said I want to talk to him, and he was unable to reach him."

Bauer, who learned of Sanford's absence on Sunday, said he still had not heard from the governor, and is getting his updates on the situation from media reports. He also said that Sanford's office is being uncooperative with his requests to speak with him. "Finally last night I told his chief-of-staff I want to talk to the governor. And he said, 'When I talk to him I will let him know of your concerns,'" he said. "They called this morning and said the governor will be back to work tomorrow. He will cut his vacation short and will be back tomorrow, but have not relayed details since."

Bauer said Sanford had left the state vulnerable in his absence, since it lacked a chain of command in case of emergency. "He represents four-and-a-half million people of our state. He is our CEO," said Bauer. "And so a lot of people depend on him for the leadership in which this state goes every day. And so not being able to reach him if there were a prison outbreak or if there some kind of imminent danger, to not be able to be reach out and look to the governor for his leadership concerns all of us."

Bauer and Sanford, who were elected separately, are not considered close allies. The lieutenant governor told CNN Tuesday that Sanford would have to publicly answer reporters' questions about his absence. "I think he is going to have to [hold a press conference]. There are going to be too many folks in the media that want an answer," he said.

Filed under: Andre Bauer • Mark Sanford
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