From The State:
S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s staff said this morning that the governor, who went mysteriously incommunicado for several days, plans to return to his office Wednesday.
Late Monday, his office said the governor was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, ending four days during which staff and state officials said they had not heard from him.
State Sen. Jake Knotts issued statement today saying: “I’m happy to hear that Governor Sanford has finally contacted his office after being missing from the state for five days.”
“While I believe every person deserves a vacation, our constitution gives only one man authority to act in case of an emergency – the governor of South Carolina. Should the governor decide to vacation away from South Carolina again, it is my sincere hope that he will take his security detail and keep his cell phone on so that he can be reached in case of a large-scale emergency,” the statement said.
Knotts, a Lexington Republican and frequent Sanford critic, is an ally of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.
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.
Neither Sanford’s office nor the State Law Enforcement Division, which provides security for governors, had been able to reach Sanford since he left the mansion Thursday in a black Suburban SUV assigned to his security detail, said state Sen. Jake Knotts , R-Lexington, and three others familiar with the situation, but who declined to be identified.
On Monday, [Sanford's spokesman, Joel] Sawyer would not disclose where on the trail the governor was hiking, nor would he reveal whether Sanford was hiking alone.
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.
First lady Jenny Sanford said Monday her husband has been gone for several days over Father’s Day weekend and she did not know where.
The two-term governor is chairman of the Republican Governors Association. This spring, Sanford became known nationally as the most outspoken governor who opposed federal stimulus money. That position won Sanford national attention until he lost a court battle.
On previous unescorted trips, Sanford has not been out of all contact – including with his own office – for this long, a source said.
The state’s chief executive should never be unreachable, Knotts said.
[Republican Lieutenant Governor Andre] Bauer said he was not contacted about Sanford’s current absence until Monday morning, when the governor’s office informed his office.
No one discussed a transfer of power to him, Bauer said.
Bob McAlister, chief of staff for the late Gov. Carroll Campbell, said it was not unusual for Campbell to get away from staff or even his security detail.
But Campbell never cut off contact completely, McAllister said.
If Campbell was on vacation or deep-sea fishing, often the press would not be told, McAllister said. But Campbell’s office tried to keep Lt. Gov. Nick Theodore, a Democrat, informed about Campbell’s schedule, particularly when he was traveling abroad.
“From a professional standpoint, this can’t happen,” McAlister said of Sanford’s absence. Residents and public officials need to know where the governor is, he added.
“It’s very disconcerting,” McAlister said.