From NBC's Katelin Schartz and Domenico Montanaro
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford hasn't been seen since Thursday. His staff says he's just taking some time to clear his mind and gather thoughts since the stimulus fight and that he was been known to travel without his security.
But when he left, he didn't even tell his wife where he was headed and authorities went so far as to track his cell phone.
Video: After being out of contact for four days, aides now say South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was just out hiking on the Appalachian Trail. NBC's Mike Viqueira reports.
"Gov. Sanford is taking some time away from the office this week to recharge after the stimulus battle and the legislative session, and to work on a couple of projects that have fallen by the wayside," Sanford's spokesman Joel Sawyer said in a statement. "We are not going to discuss the specifics of his travel arrangements or his security arrangements."
South Carolina newspaper The State: "The whereabouts of Gov. Mark Sanford was unknown for nearly four days, and some state leaders question who was in charge of the executive office. But Sanford's office told the lieutenant governor's office Monday afternoon that Sanford has been reached and he is fine, said Frank Adams, head of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's office on aging. Neither the governor's office nor the State Law Enforcement Division, which provides security for governors, had been able to reach Sanford after he left the mansion Thursday in a black SLED Suburban SUV, said Sen. Jake Knotts and three others familiar with the situation but declined to be identified. Sanford's last known whereabouts had been near Atlanta because a mobile telephone tower picked up a signal from his phone, authorities said. His office now knows where he is, Adams said. First lady Jenny Sanford told The Associated Press earlier Monday her husband has been gone for several days and she did not know where. She said she was not concerned."
AP: "First lady Jenny Sanford tells The Associated Press her husband said he needed time away from their children to write something. She says she's not concerned."
*** UPDATE *** Sanford found. Well, on Twitter anyway... Wherever he is, he's Twittering -- and reading the local papers:
SC's government structure fundamentally flawed http://www.postandcourier.c... #sctweets #gopabout 8 hours ago from web
stimulus discussion shows need for restructuring in SC - http://tinyurl.com/nr53wx #sctweets #tcot7:48 AM Jun 21st from web
tea parties were a tipping point in pushing back against Washington DC's financial recklessness - http://tinyurl.com/sanfordo... #liberty3:27 PM Jun 18th from web
*** UPDATE II *** In an email to NBC News, spokesman to Gov. Mark Sanford, Joel Sawyer, elaborates a bit on the where-is-Mark-Sanford story. He says Sanford is winding down and clearing his head.
"The governor put in a lot of time during this last legislative session, and after the session winds down it's not uncommon for him to go out of pocket for a few days at a time to clear his head. Obviously, that's going to be somewhat out of the question this time given the attention this particular absence has gotten. 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."