Politics & Government

Info on Sanford's disappearance, affair missing from e-mail records

Missing from 3,900 pages of Gov. Mark Sanford's staff e-mails is any discussion of the event that spurred the records search: Sanford's six-day disappearance and later admission of an extra-marital affair.

Only a handful of the e-mails refer to the then-secret June trip to Argentina. And there is no internal staff discussion of Sanford's whereabouts during his absence.

Communications experts say it is unlikely Sanford's staff could limit its communications during a crisis to phone and face-to-face discussions, raising the question of whether Sanford — who promised to bring more sunshine to S.C. government — has been less than forthcoming.

"It's a very legitimate suspicion," said Brian McGee, chairman of the communications department at the College of Charleston. "Complex organizations in the 21st century are highly dependent on e-mail."

Under state law, documents, e-mail and other communication by public officials using state-funded means are public records. The law does include some exceptions, such as attorney-client discussions, economic development plans and others.

Among the stacks of e-mails are many that direct Sanford to check his personal e-mail account.

"Please check your comcast account," spokesman Joel Sawyer wrote March 17 in the subject line of an e-mail to one of Sanford's state e-mail accounts.

"Can't right now," Sanford replies. "Send here?"

The records do not indicate another message was sent in response.

On another occasion, in November of last year, an e-mail was sent to at least two of Sanford's state e-mail accounts asking him to check his Comcast account.

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

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