As in Governor Mark Sanford, our illustrious leader down here in South Carolina. You may have heard by now that Governor Sanford was, um, unavailable for a few days. Out of the clear blue sky, no one knew where the heck he was. Was he at his family's summer home on Sullivan's Island, keeping a low profile, celebrating Father's Day with his children??? No....Was he hiking the Appalachian Trail like his staff said he was? Uh, that would be a negatory. Nope, it turns out that Governor Sanford took himself off to SOUTH AMERICA without so much as a "by your leave."
No one knew where he was. No one. Not his wife. Not his security detail. Not the lieutenant governor, no one. To say it's raised more than a few eyebrows in these here parts is just a bit of an understatement.
To give you a bit of a backstory, Governor Sanford has had a few defeats here recently. There was the whole not wanting any federal stimulus money - the Legislature said, "yes we do." And he had a big string of defeats when the Legislature overturned every single one of his vetos, ten in number. So, according to the story in the Post and Courier (linked above):
He told his staff he might go hiking.
"But I said 'no' I wanted to do something exotic ... It's a great city," he said during an interview at the Hartsville-Jackson International Airport.
Sanford said he was alone on the trip and declined to give any additional details other than to say he drove along the coastline.
He told the reporter he didn’t know why his staff told reporters he was on the Appalachian Trail.
Uh, yeah- because Buenos Aires is hardly the Appalachian Trail...
All manner of folks are weighing in on this, including our former (Dem) governor, Jim Hodges. Republicans and Democrats alike think it was irresponsible for him to call off his security detail, and provide NO means of communicating with him, especially as Gov Hodges said:
"You never know when a crisis is going to strike the state or the country; you can't afford to be out of touch when that happens."
He makes a good point, especially given Gov. Sanford had, as I said, no security detail at all. Even Republicans are upset with him, with one of our representatives, the House Speaker, Bobby Harrell, weighing in:
"If a governor is going to go off by himself where he cannot be reached and without his security, then he should have to transfer that authority during that period of time," Harrell said. "But the real answer is a governor shouldn't do those things."
Yeah, probably not. But here's the thing: apparently, Governor Sanford did not violate the State Constitution. According to the article:
Nothing in the state constitution requires the governor to announce his travel plans, or even to declare when he is out of state.
In fact, beyond the line of succession, the constitution is vague on many of the movements surrounding the governor, though it does allow for the lieutenant governor to take over in the governor's absence during an emergency.
Article 4, Section 11 covers only the "removal of the Governor from office by impeachment, death, resignation, disqualification, disability, or removal from the State, (that) the Lieutenant Governor shall be Governor."
It reads that "In the case of the temporary disability of the Governor and in the event of the temporary absence of the Governor from the State, the Lieutenant Governor shall have full authority to act in an emergency."
Temporary absence and temporary disability are not defined further.
An attorney general's opinion from the 1970s concluded that the lieutenant governor possesses authority to extradite prisoners in the governor's absence. The lieutenant governor can determine when an emergency exists, it said.
Was it smart? No. Irresponsible? Yes. Mind-boggling? You betcha. But it wasn't illegal. It just doesn't make much sense. And what it did was make a governor who has been seen as a fair governor look like a nutjob. And don't think the Post and Courier didn't point that out. From here on out, Governor Sanford is going to be linked with the following governors: A LOOK AT ODD BEHAVIOR BY U.S. GOVERNORS
South Carolina's chief executive isn't the first to earn headlines for acting odd.
A look at governors' unusual behavior:
EARL LONG; GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA, 1939-1940, 1948-1952, 1956-1960: Long had an affair with a stripper, Blaze Starr. In 1959, Earl got into arguments with legislators at the State House and his wife at the mansion. He was committed to the State Hospital for the Insane but released after using his authority as governor. He removed the hospital director and replaced him with a doctor who was his ally.
JIMMIE DAVIS; LOUISIANA GOVERNOR, 1944-1948 and 1960-1964: Well known as the "Singing Governor," Davis gained international fame with his version of the song "You Are My Sunshine." Even while serving as governor, he kept his hand in show business and set a record for absenteeism during his first term with trips to Hollywood to make Western "horse operas."
LESTER MADDOX; GEORGIA GOVERNOR, 1967-1971: Maddox was known for quaint sayings, such as calling constituents "little people," and outrageous gestures such as riding a bicycle backward.
JESSE VENTURA; MINNESOTA GOVERNOR, 1999-2003: Ventura traded his pinstriped suits for referee stripes when he took part in a WWE "SummerSlam" event in Minneapolis. Later in his term, he moonlighted as a football commentator for the failed XFL. He also tried to make Capitol reporters wear press credentials dubbing them "Jackals."
ROD BLAGOJEVICH; ILLINOIS GOVERNOR, 2003-2009: After his ouster from office, Blagojevich joined the Second City comedy troupe for a performance of its show "Rod Blagojevich Superstar." He also planned to appear on NBC's "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" until a judge ruled that he couldn't leave the country while awaiting trial on federal corruption charges.
ELIOT SPITZER; NEW YORK GOVERNOR, 2007-2008: Elected on an anti-corruption platform, Spitzer resigned after becoming embroiled in an investigation into a high-end prostitution ring. Referred to in court papers as "Client-9," Spitzer spent tens of thousands of dollars to arrange visits with prostitutes, law enforcement officials said. Prosecutors ultimately declined to file criminal charges.
Oh, joy. Like this state doesn't have enough to deal with in terms of education (the state sucks at it), hurricanes (we get a lot of them), tons of mercury in the water (maybe that's the problem, and not the education - people eating mercury tainted fish), and now a Runaway Governor to go along with those (and many other) problems. Sigh.
Well, at least we have the Tall Ships arriving in Charleston from around the world to take our minds off of Governor Waldo. Though, I gotta tell you, those Russian sailors aren't too used to our heat and humidity. To add insult to injury, they had to limp into harbor with a broken foremast. Imagine fixing that mast, when you're from Russia, in mid-90 degree heat, and probably 150 degree humidity (okay, okay, that's a slight exaggeration...). But they aren't facing as much heat as Governor Sanford is, and at least they get that nice breeze off the water...
UPDATE: H/T to American Girl in Italy for the heads up that Governor Sanford has admitted he was having an affair. Yep. For a YEAR. He went off to see his lady friend. Holy smokes - WHEN will these people EVER learn??? Here's the skinny:
In an emotional news conference, Sanford said his relationship with the woman in Argentina would not work, but would not say if it was over. He did not name the woman, but said he met her eight years ago, although their casual friendship evolved into a romantic relationship about a year ago.
“The bottom line is this: I have been unfaithful to my wife,” the two-term governor said before a mass of press in the State House outside the governor’s office. “Let me apologize to my wife Jenny and my four boys ... for letting them down.”
Asked directly if he and first lady Jenny Sanford are separated, Sanford said: “I don't know how you want to define that. I’m here and she's there. I guess in a formal sense we are not.”
Sanford acknowledged he misled his staff earlier this week when he lead them to believe he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Sanford said he would resign as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association — a platform he has used over the past few months to broadcast his opposition to President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package and fueling speculation that Sanford was considering a 2012 run for president.
But Sanford did not respond when asked if he would resign as governor.
Sanford fought back tears several times during a 20 minute news conference, especially when he mentioned his marriage counselor and his long time personal and political friend Tom Davis, Sanford’s former chief of staff.
Sanford’s relationship with the woman in Argentina became more sexually charged about a year ago, but Sanford’s wife did not learn of the affair until about five month sago. The Sanfords have since been in counseling.
In his apology, Sanford acknowledged not only all South Carolinians, but people of faith, people in his own party as well as his family.
He denied he had ever had other extramarital affairs.
“I’ve spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina,” Sanford said. “I am committed to trying to get my heart right.”
Good grief. It raises a whole bunch of questions, of course, like one pointed out by AGII, who made such a big issue of this on the national stage? I might add, maybe he was hoping for the John Edwards' treatment. You know, the MSM looks the other way for over a year until some gossip rag exposes him...
There were a number of interesting comments at this article, including some along this line:
EIG4 :Dear 'ol Mark should have also apologized to the many gay folks around South Carolina for denying them the right to marriage citing the destruction of its "sanctity"...excuse me?! I do believe committing ADULTERY kind of makes you a hypocrite! Looks to me like marriage between a man and a woman is still quite full of sin. Thanks!
Uh, yeah, there's that.
Anyway - Mystery solved. Governor Waldo was simply having a romantic tryst. No wonder he didn't tell anyone, ESPECIALLY his wife. Ahem...