Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Reports of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's days-long disappearance in June were not greatly exaggerated. When the media got word on June 22 that neither the governor's office nor the state's law-enforcement division, which provides security for governors, had had any contact with Sanford for four days, it seemed a bit strange. But when First Lady Jenny Sanford said she hadn't heard from him and didn't know exactly where he had gone, it seemed downright nuts. After a few hours, she said simply that he had needed time away from their four sons to write something. His office, apparently also unaware of his whereabouts, maintained that his off-the-grid furloughs were typical; Sanford hated his security detail and had shut off all communication with his office during this particular vanishing act. Still, it was flooded with questions about the oddity and finally issued a statement late in the day on June 22 saying Governor Sanford had gone off to hike on the Appalachian Trail. But two days later, after being away from his state for nearly a week, he returned and held a press conference to explain where he had actually been: in Argentina with his lover, María Belén Chapur. He had gone there to see her — allegedly to break off the affair — over Father's Day weekend. Calls for his resignation quickly grew to a fever pitch, but he has remained resolute. Jenny, on the other hand, packed her bags and moved with their kids into their summer home. And on Nov. 23, the South Carolina State Ethics Commission charged him with 37 counts of breaking ethics laws.