The Mysterious Case of the Missing Governor
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Am I the only one who thinks it's incredibly bizarre that the governor of South Carolina has apparently gone AWOL?

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."

The article goes along to point out that apparently the governor may or may not be alone - it's unclear whether he took along security, and it seems that they have no way to get in touch with the governor in case of emergency.

Another bizarre twist - as stated, his wife wasn't even really sure where the governor was when questioned earlier in the week. And this quote from her certainly raised my eyebrows:

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.

Okay, I can understand needing a break from your kids sometimes. A parent's life is probably pretty hectic. But who the heck decides that the ideal time to take a break from his four sons would be over Father's Day?!

CNN.com also has a piece on the story. Apparently, lawmakers from both sides of the legislature are riled up. One of them makes a pretty good point:
"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?' "
Along those lines, the AP article notes:
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.
From what I can tell, the response from the governor's staff has been (and I'm paraphrasing here, obviously): "Hey, don't sweat it. If we think there's trouble, we'll go ahead and let you know."

This is just beyond bizarre. I'm pretty sure it's inappropriate for a staffer to decide when to make the call that power needs to be transferred to the lieutenant governor. I'm also pretty sure that some of the histrionics from the other lawmakers is a bit over the top - should a true emergency arise, and should Sanford be unreachable, I'm pretty sure everyone would just turn to Bauer to look for a decision. Of course, I'm not 100% up to speed on how the South Carolina executive branch works, so feel free to correct me on the legality of that.

One final note: Sanford has been acting squirrely for some time now.

State Sen. Jake Knotts, a fellow Republican and adversary 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.

All of this should be deeply troubling to the people of South Carolina. Clearly, something is up with Sanford. Whether it's some kind of weird mental breakdown, or something as pedestrian as an affair, I have no idea. But should Sanford ever come down off the trail, I imagine he's going to have to do a loooooot of PR spinning.

Again, not familiar with how it's done in South Carolina, but one has to wonder whether the legislature needs to initiate some of kind of impeachment process or whatever they need to do in the event that the governor truly is no longer fit for duty.
Update: there are several great sites that I read all the time that have more coverage and commentary on this story:
- TPM

Sanford’s last known location was near Atlanta late last week. A mobile telephone tower there picked up a signal from his phone, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Since then, the governor’s state and personal phones had been turned off, and Sanford had not responded to phone or text messages, a source said. Most mobile phones cannot be tracked if they are turned off.

The article also confirms my earlier comment that in the event of a true emergency, Lt. Gov Bauer is empowered under the S.C. Constitution to assume decision making responsibilities.
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