June 23rd, 2009
10:35 PM ET

The missing governor and the SUV

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division vehicle believed to have been driven by Gov. Sanford to the airport.

Chuck Hadad
AC360° Producer

Our search for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has led us to the airport in Columbia, South Carolina and to this vehicle, a black Suburban.

Reports of where the Governor has been have varied widely since he went missing last Thursday. Finally, on Monday, his office issued a statement saying he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

Wherever he disappeared to, state officials acknowledge that he borrowed a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) vehicle to get there.

CNN now believes that he drove to this airport and boarded a flight and this Suburban is the vehicle that got him here.

I'm standing next to the Suburban, and inside it, I'm seeing shorts, a sleeping bag, sunblock, sneakers and a canvas bag..

Which is puzzling... If you're on a camping trip, why would you leave items like that behind in the car?

Filed under: 360° Radar • Chuck Hadad • Raw Politics
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. BettyAnn,Nacogdoches,TX

    I am going out on a limb here. Do you think the Gov might have an extra marital affair? Oh, I am a genius! 😉

    June 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  2. N. Manetavat

    Any lady with him?

    June 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  3. Leah

    I had a feeling when it was reported that he hiked the Appalachian Trail that something was amiss. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that he really wasn't alone in Argentina either.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  4. patricia lewis

    Is he upset because he took the stimulus money or because he didn't?

    June 24, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  5. Mari

    Interesting how the usual GOPers are not commenting on this story. Wink.

    @ Barbara C. Kruse......... Thing is he was NOT on the trail, but in a foreign country! NO respectable married man and father leaves his family and wife without telling them where he is going!

    I am willing to bet he has a lot in common with Ensign!

    June 24, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  6. Melissa

    The man wasn't even hiking, and it wasn't that he just took off (which is despicable in its own right), he went to another country without telling anyone. This is getting more and more suspicious.

    June 24, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  7. Tamela

    On vacation??? How many jobs do you know of ,where you can just take off and not tell anybody that you are leaving and not making arrangement to have your position covered. I know if I did that , I would be fired.

    June 24, 2009 at 10:05 am |
  8. Irene

    It seems kinda odd for a state leader to not tell anyone where he is going!!! Even if most of us all want some peace and quiet, i dont think anyone has left cold turkey. He is either not up for the pressure demands of being a governor if he has to escape like that for some R & R.

    June 24, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  9. jenn patterson

    I just read a comment that actually said "what's wrong with all of you" and "leave the man alone he's on vaca" really,really wow last time i checked a public official using a public vehicle to go on a "vaca" should at the very least tell his wife! no something more than the gov. is missing from this story since he chose to be a "public" servant he should be up for "public" scrutiny noone is asking for out of the way info just info everyday people give to people BEFORE they go away

    June 24, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  10. Maureen Mower

    I think the SC Governor has flown the coop – and I'm not talking about his current disappearing act.

    Sounds like he needs a very thorough psychiatric evaluation – and a new job. Your state deserves a Gov. who doesn't spend the better part of a week incommunicado.

    June 24, 2009 at 3:03 am |
  11. Pat

    So he is hiking but is able to see the news and know there is a fuss about him? He left his sleeping bag but took a portable, battery operated TV?

    June 24, 2009 at 2:42 am |
  12. Georgiaguy

    And I thought the Republicans in Georgia were embarrassing! It sounds like he might be caught up in little affair or he is going to Iowa to marry Sen. Lindsey Graham. He is already married, would it be bigamy if he married a man, too. What kind of father leaves his four sons before Father's Day? South Carolina has the highest unemployment, except for Michigan. You can blame Michigan's troubles on the auto industry, but South Carolina went downhill with the Republican-one party rule. It has the lowest SAT scores of any state. I can't wait to see the press conference when he returns home, trying to hide behind the wife and those four sons. I'll bet his four sons will give Jon and Kate's little monsters a run for the money.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:42 am |
  13. CHWms

    Barbara are you joking?!? This is serious. Vacations, Hiking that's one thing. If he had told people he was going to be away for a few days hiking (at an undisclosed place) but would check in periodically and could be reached at a certain number then fine. HE WAS MISSING FOR FIVE (four?) DAYS!!! No one, including his wife knew where he was. The stories aren't matching up either. He's up to something. Seeing as how he's using taxpayer money I think we have a right to know whats up.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:56 am |
  14. Dulcie - Denver

    Ever since I heard this story, it's sounded really hinky. No idea what's up, but it's fishy as hell. To not even tell your family where you're going? Very, very strange.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:26 am |
  15. Laurin Cowling

    This whole story seems strange...from his wife not having any idea where he is (for days on end) to the fact that he had to "get away from the kids" over Father's Day weekend. Nice "Family Values", Gov!
    It would not surprise me if he snuck off to the "Betty Ford Clinic", or to have a little nip 'n tuck and didn't have the guts to have been upfront about it with his staff. Where ever he is, I'll lay odds no hiking was involved.

    June 23, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  16. Bill McCormick

    Hiking the AT – Hello to all – It has been quite some time since I had the luxury of taking a few days off to hike the AT – it certainly is magnificent – But I just have a question for you all – Last time I went on the trail, the trailheads were located west of Asheville, Northeast Georgia, western Virginia. I did not realize that it was possible to fly to the trailhead – and by the way – I doubt seriously that you could get a cell phone signal from the AT regardless of how bad you wanted one – they do not exactly have electricity for phone chargers in the bear cages.

    June 23, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
  17. Tim

    Barbara: If he needed a sleeping bag then wouldn't he take the sleeping bag with him? And you specified Dad: why wasn't the dad with his children on father's day?

    June 23, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  18. eric

    Reguarding Gov Sanford: Our society demands that athletes, people
    applying for jobs, and most sensitive positions in government, must
    submit to drug testing. The governors actions make a case for drug
    testing of our elected officials.

    June 23, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  19. Joe H.

    Governors and Presidents take vacations all the time, Barbara. It's expected. What's not expected is when you run off by yourself without ANY security and don't tell your wife or your staff where you're going. Or your sons, over Father's Day.

    June 23, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  20. Joe H.

    I thought SLED tracked him down to Atlanta via his cell phone?

    June 23, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  21. Ashlie

    How can a governor disappear for days and not tell anyone. It's his duty to inform the people in his office and the people living in SC that he will be taking time off for a few days.

    June 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm |
  22. Jerry the fairy

    @Chuck... why are you writing stories? anyway.... maybe he didn't want to pay the extra money for his luggage being a couple pounds over so he took over stuff out...

    June 23, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  23. joy

    WYFF out of Greenville, SC says the suv was found at Hartsfield Jackson in Atlanta.


    And why would anyone choose to hike the Appalachian trail in the middle of a heat wave in the south?! It was in the 100's at the end of last week and I doubt it was much cooler on the trail.

    June 23, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  24. suzanne

    I thought our state law enforcement (SLED) tracked his cell to atlanta- so did he drive or fly there? his story makes no sense and I hope you cnn looks into this and independently verifies any story. this smells so bad...

    June 23, 2009 at 10:58 pm |
  25. christine cox

    I smell a rat.

    June 23, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  26. Dustin, South Carolina

    As a native South Carolinian I do not see why this story is such a big deal. It seems like the news media is just trying to make a huge deal out of nothing. Lawmakers in Washington do not show up for half of the votes on capitol hill and we do not hear a whole lot of investigative reporting on that. The argument is that it is a security issue but President Obama was able to keep his blackberry and there was not a whole lot said about it in the media. I think this is just another example of portraying Republicans in a negative light in the media.

    June 23, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  27. Barbara C Kruse

    What's the matter with all of you? How could the Gov hike the Appalachian Trail for a few days without all of you following him?He was smart not to tell you until he got back.
    He needed a sleeping bag to sleep in, of course.
    Once word got out as to where he was he had to come back
    to escape all the cameras in his face

    Get real...and hiking the trail this time of year, peacefully, would be a great mini vacation for the Dad.

    June 23, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  28. Ben Lemmons

    Please leave this story alone. It keeps giving hope to SC residents that he will not return. If we could only be so lucky. Most SC residents really don't care what happens to him and just wish he would quit being such an embarrassment and go away.

    Ben Lemmons

    June 23, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  29. Annie Kate

    Maybe they are extras....or he bought newer ones. The governor's call to his chief of staff today and his remark that he can't believe the amount of attention his time off is causing at least shows he is alive and well, and that he is cutting his vacation short because of all the talk. That is a shame if he is just on vacation to enjoy some solitude; governors don't get much time for vacation.

    June 23, 2009 at 10:46 pm |