Politics & Government

E-mails reveal Sanford staff's frantic efforts to hide his absence

Gov. Mark Sanford's chief of staff, Scott English, called the governor's cell phones 15 times during the governor's secret trip to Argentina to visit his lover last month. But the governor never picked up.

Meanwhile Sanford's communications director, Joel Sawyer, worked to minimize the fact the governor had been out of touch with his staff for about four days.

Records released Monday show Sawyer juggled e-mails and media calls from around the nation, giving a consistent message that was later proven to be untrue.

Those records also show Sanford declined a dinner invitation from a company looking to expand its business in South Carolina because Sanford planned to be in Argentina that day.

Sanford has since said he intentionally misled Sawyer and other staff members to believe he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was really with his Argentine lover.

First, Sawyer said the governor was taking a much needed break after the legislative session.

Later, after media pressure intensified, Sawyer refined the message: "The governor is hiking along the Appalachian Trail," he repeatedly wrote to reporters June 22. "I apologize for taking so long to send this update, and was waiting to see if a more definitive idea of what part of the Trail he was on before we did so."

Through the state's open record laws, The State late Monday received nearly 600 pages of documents — e-mails and phone call exchanges — between the governor's staff members.

The documents shed new light on a June 18-24 secret trip the governor took to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to visit his lover.

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.

Related stories from McClatchy DC