Mystery solved: South Carolina governor taking a hike

Gov. Mark Sanford is hiking along the Appalachian Trail, a spokesman said late Monday.
A mystery surrounding the whereabouts of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was apparently solved late Monday when a Sanford spokesman said he was hiking along the Appalachian Trail.

“I apologize for taking so long to send this update, and was waiting to see if (we had) a more definitive idea of what part of the trail he was on before we did so,” Joel Sawyer said in an e-mail to reporters. Sanford’s whereabouts were unaccounted for Monday when he stepped out of the public eye following a bruising session with the state Legislature. Even his wife, Jenny, said she did not know where he was, The Associated Press reported, according to The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina. “I want to emphasize that this isn’t something that either staff or Mrs. Sanford is concerned about,” Sawyer wrote Monday night. “As we said earlier today, it isn’t unusual for the governor to be out of pocket for several days after the legislative session. We knew that he would be difficult to reach, and that he would be checking in infrequently. Given the media attention this has generated, we’ll obviously update you once we have some more specifics to pass along.” Earlier, Sawyer told CNN in a statement, “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.” Sawyer did not address Jenny Sanford’s comments to the AP.

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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. Knotts added that on Saturday, he “was getting wind that he had not shown back up and nobody knew where he was.” He said a SLED official told him 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.”