S.C. Gov. Sanford disappears; last heard from on Thursday

No one -- including law enforcement, and his wife -- seems to know where the governor is, or who's in charge

Topics: War Room,

Some politicians take their privacy more seriously than others, and are reticent about disclosing details of their personal lives. But it’s still very rare to see a sitting governor just up and go missing for days, leaving his office, his state’s law enforcement — even his wife — without any clue as to his whereabouts.

That’s what South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has been doing since Thursday, when he reportedly left the governor’s mansion in a black SUV owned by the State Law Enforcement Division, which handles his security detail. His phones have been turned off, and he hasn’t responded to phone or text messages, a local paper, The State, reports. The last clue as to his location came when a cell tower near Atlanta picked up a signal from his phone. His wife, First Lady Jenny Sanford, has told the Associated Press that she doesn’t know where he is — but she says she’s not concerned.

There have been conflicting explanations for the governor’s absence. Jenny Sanford told the AP that her husband needed some time away from their children in order to write something. But a statement from his office says he’s “taking some time away from the office this week to recharge after the stimulus battle and the legislative session, and to work on a couple of projects that have fallen by the wayside.” It adds that the office will not discuss any specifics regarding his trip.

State Sen. Jake Knotts, who is a Republican like Sanford but has been a critic of the governor’s, contacted the SLED chief after hearing rumors of the governor’s disappearance, and got confirmation. In a statement, he said, “I was recently made aware that Governor Sanford has frequently been eluding SLED agents and disappearing at odd times.” Knotts also added that he’s concerned that no one has been left in charge, something Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer seemed to confirm, as he’s said he hasn’t been given the governor’s authority.

Update: An interesting new development in the story — very shortly after the news went national, The State reported that Sanford staff told Bauer’s office that they’ve reached the governor, and that they know where he is and that he’s fine. Seems like a remarkable coincidence that, after being incommunicado for days, Sanford’s suddenly back in touch just as news of his disappearance becomes a big story, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.



Update 2: Another twist — a statement from a Sanford spokesman that seems to be at odds with much of what had already been reported. In the statement, Joel Sawyer says:

The governor 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. 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.

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>