Not sure how Gov. Brad Henry feels about the outdoors, but South Carolina’s governor is heading out on the Appalachian Trail — untethered. According to media reports, Gov. Mark Sanford left in the sport utility vehicle that his bodyguard normally drives and stopped communicating with his office, family and friends late last week.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the hiatus comes after Sanford sparred with opponents and Obama administration officials about the use and his desire to refuse nearly $700 million in federal stimulus dollars. Sanford was expected to return to his office on Wednesday. Staffers heard from him today, according to media reports.
In a statement, Joel Sawyer, Sanford’s spokesman said, “Governor Sanford called to check in with his chief of staff this morning. It would be fair to say the governor was somewhat taken aback by all of the interest this trip has gotten.”
Another interesting wrinkle in the Wall Street Journal story is this:
“The state’s top attorneys spent Monday researching state laws, which are ambiguous, about whether an extended or unexplained absence can trigger the temporary replacement of the governor or transfer of authority to Lt. Gov. André Bauer. Both men are Republicans, though they have clashed at times. Elected officials decided against pursuing a power transfer after being told by aides to the governor that they knew Mr. Sanford’s location.”
Public officials, word to the wise, don’t be absent on crucial days. Oklahoma has had it’s share of untimely absences. Just last session, Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, was absent on what was supposed to be the last day of session. Without his vote, Republicans didn’t have the support to pass the chief information officer bill. They came back after the Memorial Day holiday to take up that bill and others.
But I wonder, maybe Gov. Sanford isn’t hiking. Maybe he’s just sitting at home, watching movies and taking a break from politics, if only for a few days.