When a Senator Goes Hiking...Who's In Charge?

  1. COLUMBIA, S.C. – A dayslong absence by South Carolina's governor left fellow state leaders scratching their heads.

    The lieutenant governor couldn't figure out where Gov. Mark 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 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."

    That session included his losing fight to reject $700 million in federal stimulus cash that Sanford eventually accepted under duress and a court order.

    The Republican governor left town on Thursday, his spokesman Joel 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. The governor was expected back later this week.

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

    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. Andrew 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.


    Associated Press Writers Bruce Smith in Sullivans Island and Michael R. Baker in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.
    Last edit by Cherybaby on Jun 23, '09
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  3. by   blue note
    That is a bizarre story. Especially the part where his wife said that he had been gone for several days, including Father's Day, and that she had not heard from him since. Taking a vacation or a break is one thing, but when you are a governor, you can't simply take off and be incommunicado for days.

    He's one of the Republicans jockeying to be the potential 2012 Presidential candidate, but he might just have blown his own chances by going walkabout.
  4. by   Cherybaby
    I found this:

    Law on succession

    S.C. law makes provisions for succeeding the governor but leaves key unanswered questions

    S.C. Constitution

    Article 4, Section 11 of the S.C. Constitution says the lieutenant governor becomes governor upon the impeachment, death, resignation, disqualification, disability or removal of the governor.

    Further, the lieutenant governor has have the full authority to act in an emergency, disability or temporary absence of the governor. Neither the Constitution nor state law details what is an emergency or a temporary absence.

    Statutory law

    Written to deal with a possible Cold War era attack, the law specifies a line of succession.

    It deems the lieutenant governor as first in line during an emergency. Others in line are the president pro tem of the Senate and the speaker of the House, respectively, followed by others.

    In a 1981 opinion to then-Gov. Dick Riley, then-Attorney General Dan McLeod wrote that a specially created committee in 1969 tried to define and identify the meaning of the word emergency. It concluded the meaning “will have to be settled by the courts.”


    Could have made things a little rough for him, dontcha think?
  5. by   P_RN
    The "Gov." was in Argentina........Don't know why, actually don't really care other than someone kept lying in his office. In 7 days a hurricaine could have leveled the state, a fire like the one in Myrtle Beach could have blown inland and taken out the state.....THAT is why he needed to be truthful to SOMEONE.
  6. by   blue note
    Appalachian, Argentina....details, details. But I guess they both start with the letter "A".....

    But the latest! Sanford admits to extramarital affair.
    "I've been unfaithful to my wife, and I developed a relationship with what started as a dear, dear friend from Argentina," he said, breaking down in tears. Sanford this morning returned from a trip to Buenos Aires, and he said he was "obviously not" alone there.

    Sanford said he would resign as chair of the Republican Governor's Association.

    Asked if he was separated from his wife, "I guess in a formal sense we're not." He said he and his wife were trying to "work through" the situation, and that his wife has known about the affair for about five months.

    "I've let down a lot of people," he added. "That's the bottom line."
    Guess that means his staff flat out lied about his whereabouts.
  7. by   Pierrette
    His wife knows about the affair and he continues? Disgusting, selfish behavior.
  8. by   blue note
    Faux News identifies Mark Sanford as a "D"(emocrat) at his press conference. :smackingf

  9. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from Pierrette
    His wife knows about the affair and he continues? Disgusting, selfish behavior.
    Wow, I'm saddened and admittedly angry - I liked his politics a lot.

    Can't people "just say no" to this kind of behavior. Make a decision and keep your word?

    Very self-centered and wrong.

  10. by   Spidey's mom

    . . ."3. The GOP loses one of its most articulate anti-spending, anti-deficit spokespersons. Sanford's machinations may not have been popular, but he articulated a view of the world that many conservatives share. He was to many the face of opposition to President Obama's increasingly unpopular stimulus bill.. . ."

    "Once again, Americans have another reason to throw their hands up and say, "There's another politician who couldn't keep it in his pants, and who abused the public trust." Confidence in political institutions is as low as it was after Watergate, and the less confidence the public has in politicians, the less competitive elections will be; fewer good people decide to run for office, and the cycle perpetuates."
  11. by   Spidey's mom
    Transcript of the news conference:

  12. by   blue note
    The State apparently obtained e-mails between Sanford and his mistress back in Dec. 2008, which they sat on till now.

    Gov. Mark Sanford ranks in the top 50 based on the total amount he spent on trips paid by his office and those paid by the state Commerce Department. Mr. Sanford has traveled to China, Argentina and Brazil through the Commerce Department, which has travel reports showing taxpayers covering $21,488 for those trips. - Augusta Chronicle 12/2/08

    In addition, though Sanford indicated he met the woman with whom he had the affair eight years ago, a source at Politico checked federal records for his congressional travel during his time in the House and finds Sanford made four trips to Latin America between 1995 and 1998, including two to Argentina.
  13. by   leslie :-D
    the whole situation is just plain unfortunate...
    esp being in the public eye.
    little mercy there...

  14. by   Multicollinearity
    I was reading some of the emails on Huffington Post (did I really just admit that?) and goodness...this sounds like an intense affair like The Bridges of Madison County. The governor emailed the woman:


    "In the meantime please sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul."
    This situation is sad.

    I believe the 'real issue', though, is that he left the state without telling anyone where he was going and arranging chain of command.
    Last edit by Multicollinearity on Jun 24, '09