COLUMBIA - Thirty-year lawman Sen. Jake Knotts said he got wind of news over the weekend that Gov. Mark Sanford had taken a SLED vehicle Thursday night and told his security detail to stand down.
"Ain't nobody seen from him or heard from him since," Knotts said this afternoon. Knotts is a West Columbia Republican and a retired law enforcement officer.
The governor's office did not provide many specifics.
"Governor 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," press secretary Joel Sawyer said in a statement. "We are not going to discuss the specifics of his travel arrangements or his security arrangements."
Sawyer said later that the governor frequently goes "out of pocket for a few days at a time to clear his head" when the session ends.
Before leaving last week, the governor let staff know his whereabouts and that he'd be difficult to reach, Sawyer said. "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," he said. "As has been the case during this entire administration, we do not discuss specifics of his security arrangements."
Knotts - who is regularly at odds with Sanford and frequently critical of him - said he spoke to Reggie Lloyd, director of the State Law Enforcement Division, on Saturday evening and again on around 11 a.m. on Monday. SLED would not comment.
"SLED should be able to know where he is at all times," Knotts said.
Knotts said his interest is three-fold: He is concerned for Sanford's safety, worried about the protection of the state should a hurricane or terrorist attack happen while the governor is on his own and apprehensive because Sanford never transferred his power to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer before he left.
Bauer's office was assured this afternoon after reporters called about the story that the governor's office knows where Sanford is and that everything is fine, communications director Frank Adams said.
Reached at the couple's beach house on Sullivan's Island Monday afternoon, Jenny Sanford answered the door and said she was there with kids and had no idea where the Governor is.
He left Columbia Thursday saying he needed to clear his head, she said, adding that he missed Father's day with their four boys.
She said she didn't know when he would return, "Sometime later this week."
She said that on earlier occasions when he needed to clear his head he went to his farm in Beaufort County, and dismissed the SLED security details when he did so. "You don't see any security here do you?"
Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, said he has known Sanford and his family since the governor was in high school. He and Sanford were also friends in college at Furman University, and Campsen worked on Sanford's staff from 2002 until 2003. Campsen said the governor, like anyone else, likes a little breathing room.
Campsen hasn't talked to the governor for about two or three weeks and does not know where he might be. Sanford has mentioned an interest in writing a book, and may have wanted to take some time to do that, Campsen said.
In the past, he has spent time with the governor when his security detail wasn't present on hunting and deep-sea fishing trips.
"My perception has been that they've been like a phone call away," Campsen said.