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BREAKING:Governor says he never hiked Appalachian Trail; says he cruised along the coast of Buenos Aires to unwind after stressful legislative session

 
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06/24/2009 10:53 AM
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BREAKING:Governor says he never hiked Appalachian Trail; says he cruised along the coast of Buenos Aires to unwind after stressful legislative session
Sanford met in Atlanta after returning from South America
Governor says he never hiked Appalachian Trail; says he cruised along the coast of Buenos Aires to unwind after stressful legislative session.



ATLANTA | S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford arrived in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning, having wrapped up a seven-day visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, he said. Sanford said he had not been hiking along the Appalachian Trail, as his staff said in a Tuesday statement to the media.

Sanford's whereabouts had been unknown since Thursday, and the mystery surrounding his absence fueled speculation about where he had been and who's in charge in his absence. His emergence Wednesday ended the mystery.

Sanford, in an exclusive interview with The State, said he decided at the last minute to go to the South American country to recharge after a difficult legislative session in which he battled with lawmakers over how to spend federal stimulus money.

Sanford said he had considered hiking on the Appalachian Trail, an activity he said he has enjoyed since he was a high school student.

"But I said 'no' I wanted to do something exotic," Sanford said "... It's a great city."

Sanford, in a brief interview in the nation's busiest airport, said he has been to the city twice before, most recently about a year and half ago during a Commerce Department trip.

Sanford said he was alone on the trip. He declined to give any additional details about what he did other than to say he drove along the coastline.

Sanford, who was wearing a blue and white button down shirt and brown denim pants, said he left for Buenos Aires on Thursday night from Columbia International Airport and had originally planned to come back tomorrow.

Media reports said a SLED SUV the governor drove that night was spotted in the airport's parking lot.

The governor said he cut his trip short after his chief of staff, Scott English, told him his trip was gaining a lot of media attention and he needed to come back.

When asked why his staff said he was on the Appalachian Trail, Sanford replied, "I don't know."

Sanford later said "in fairness to his staff," he had told them he might go hiking on the Appalachian Trial.

Sanford said he decided not to return via the Columbia airport to avoid the media. The State Media Company was the only media who greeted Sanford this morning.

"I don't know how this thing got blown out of proportion," Sanford said.

Sanford said he has taken adventure trips for years to unwind. He has visited such places as the coast of Turkey, the Greek Isles and South America. He was with friends sometimes and sometimes by himself.

"I would get out of the bubble I am in." Sanford said.

Sanford said the legislative session was a difficult one for him, particularly losing the fight over whether he should accept stimulus $700 million in stimulus money he wanted lawmakers to spend on debt instead of urgent budget needs.

"It was a long session and I needed a break," Sanford said.

After a brief conversation with a reporter, Sanford was escorted away by an aide.

-------------------------------

Evolving details

Accounts of Gov. Mark Sanford’s four-day walkabout from his public duties remain unclear and, in some instances, contradictory. A look at what is known and how accounts by Sanford’s staff have changed as word of his mystery trip became known and public officials became alarmed:

--- Thursday, June 18

- Sanford leaves the Governor’s Mansion in a black State Law Enforcement Division Suburban assigned to his security detail. A precise time is unavailable.

- A mobile telephone tower in Atlanta near Hartsfield airport picks up a signal from Sanford’s phone. It is the last signal before his phones are turned off for days.

--- Friday, June 19

Law enforcement officials get no response to phone and text messages sent to Sanford.

--- Saturday, June 20

- The governor’s office reports to police that there is no reason for concern but provides no details.

- State Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, calls SLED chief Reggie Lloyd about rumors that no one knows where Sanford is and no one can reach him. Lloyd confirms that Sanford’s whereabouts are known

--- Sunday, June 21

- Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer learns Sanford’s whereabouts are unknown.

--- Monday, June 22

- Monday morning — Reporters hear rumors that Sanford’s location is a mystery.

- 2:30 p.m. Knotts issues a statement raising questions about Sanford’s absence, asking who is in charge of the executive branch of S.C. government.

- 2:40 p.m. The State newspaper posts an online article saying Sanford has been out of reach for four days.

- 2:50 p.m. The governor’s office issues a statement that Sanford “is taking some time away from the office this week to recharge after the stimulus battle. ... We are not going to discuss the specifics.”

- 3 p.m. The Associated Press reports that first lady Jenny Sanford says she does not know where her husband is, but he is taking time away from their four boys, “to write something.” She says she is not worried.

- Midafternoon Sanford security officials are told by the governor’s office that he is OK. No details are provided.

- 3:40 p.m. The lieutenant governor’s office says Sanford’s office says it has spoken to Sanford and knows where he is.

- About 5 p.m. Sawyer denies that Sanford staffers told Bauer’s office that someone had spoken with the governor.

- 5 p.m. As media inquiries escalate to include national news outlets, Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer issues another statement. It says in part, “Before leaving last week, (Sanford) let staff know his whereabouts and that he'd be difficult to reach.” He declines to elaborate. Sawyer also doesn’t know whether Sanford is still in the country.

- 10:05 p.m. The governor’s office issues a statement saying Sanford is hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Staff members do not know where Sanford is on the trail and will not say whether he is hiking with anyone.

--- Tuesday, June 23

- 9:42 a.m. The governor’s office issues a statement saying staffers have spoken with Sanford and he will return to work today.

--- Wednesday, June 24

- Gov. Sanford arrives in the early morning at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for the drive back to Columbia.

SOURCE: [link to www.thestate.com]

Last Edited by II-Neutron on 06/24/2009 10:54 AM
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By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews: 11
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06/24/2009 11:11 AM
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Re: BREAKING:Governor says he never hiked Appalachian Trail; says he cruised along the coast of Buenos Aires to unwind after stressful legislative session
Clone put in his place.
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06/24/2009 11:17 AM
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Re: BREAKING:Governor says he never hiked Appalachian Trail; says he cruised along the coast of Buenos Aires to unwind after stressful legislative session
Well even if he DID change his mind "at the last minute" (hiking? international trip? hmm. whichever shall I choose? Well I packed enough underwear for both...), why not place a quick call to his office staff to say he'd be out of the country? That's the least I would expect from a sitting (or hiking, cruising, dallying or whatever) governor!
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06/24/2009 11:20 AM
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Re: BREAKING:Governor says he never hiked Appalachian Trail; says he cruised along the coast of Buenos Aires to unwind after stressful legislative session
Well even if he DID change his mind "at the last minute" (hiking? international trip? hmm. whichever shall I choose? Well I packed enough underwear for both...), why not place a quick call to his office staff to say he'd be out of the country? That's the least I would expect from a sitting (or hiking, cruising, dallying or whatever) governor!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 667403

Maybe he did call. I am sure his staff doesn't run to the press everytime the governer farts!
Anonymous Coward
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06/24/2009 11:40 AM
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Re: BREAKING:Governor says he never hiked Appalachian Trail; says he cruised along the coast of Buenos Aires to unwind after stressful legislative session
Maybe he did call. I am sure his staff doesn't run to the press everytime the governer farts!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 709239


Well then why would the staff be telling the news media (at first) they didn't know where he was, and then (later) that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail? Either they made that up, or were instructed to lie?

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