The Missing Governor: A Timeline

June 24, 2009 7:21 a.m.

We thought it might be useful to put together a timeline of events in the Missing Governor story:

Thursday, June 18
• Governor Sanford takes a State Law Enforcement Division Suburban and leaves the governor’s mansion in Columbia.• A cell phone tower near Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, picks up a signal from Sanford’s cell phone, before his phone is apparently turned off for the next few days.

Friday, June 19
• South Carolina law enforcement officials call and send text messages to Sanford’s cell phone, with no response.

Saturday, June 20
• The governor’s office issues a statement to the police saying there is no reason for concern.

• State Sen. Jake Knotts — a Republican but frequent Sanford critic — calls SLED chief Reggie Lloyd. According to Knotts, Lloyd says the security details knows Sanford’s location.

Sunday, June 21
• Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer — who would take over from Sanford in an emergency — discovers Sanford’s whereabouts are unknown.

Monday, June 22
• c. 2:30 p.m: Knotts issues a statement asking who is in charge of South Carolina if Sanford is gone.

• c. 2:40 p.m.: The State newspaper publishes an article saying Sanford has been unreachable for four days.

• c. 2:50 p.m.: The governor’s office issues this statement: “[Sanford] is taking some time away from the office this week to recharge after the stimulus battle,” and to “work on a couple of projects that have fallen by the wayside.”

• c. 3 p.m.: Sanford’s wife, Jenny, tells the AP that she does not know where her husband is, but she’s not worried. Vacationing with her four sons at the Sanfords’ Sullivan’s Island beach house, she says “he was writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids.”

• c. 3:40 p.m.: Lt. Gov. Bauer’s office tells reporters the governor’s office has said it has spoken to Sanford and knows his location.

• c. 5:00 p.m.: Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer denies that the office ever told Bauer’s office they had spoken to Sanford.

• c. 10:00 p.m: Bauer’s office issues a statement suggesting it has been misled into believing that the governor’s office had spoken with Sanford, when in fact it hadn’t. Bauer says he “cannot take lightly that his staff has not had communication with [Sanford] for more than four days.” A Bauer spokesman later tells TPMmuckraker that the statement was prompted when Bauer had asked to speak to the governor on the phone and the governor’s office had been unable to make this happen.

• c. 10:05 p.m.: The governor’s office issues a statement saying Sanford is hiking on the Appalachian Trail, but gives no specifics about what part of the trail or if the governor is alone.

Tuesday, June 23
• c. 9:40 a.m: The governor’s office issues a statement saying Sanford has called the office and is “taken aback” by the reaction to his disappearance. The statement adds that Sanford will return to the office Wednesday.

• c. 4 p.m.: Jenny Sanford tells CNN she still hasn’t heard from her husband. She says, “I am being a mom today. I have not heard from my husband. I am taking care of my children.”

• c. 5 p.m.: Local news channel WYFF4 reports that a missing state vehicle was tracked down to the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta. Sources tell the TV station that Sanford was seen by federal agents boarding a plane there, without security. The governor’s office stands by the Appalachian Trail story.

• c.10 p.m.: CNN reports that a black Chevy Suburban believed to be used by Sanford was found at Columbia Metropolitan Airport. “A parking permit for the school attended by Sanford’s children is visible on the windshield,” said the report.

Wednesday, June 24
• Early morning: Sanford arrives at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta on a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he says he has been for the last few days. He tells a reporter from The State that he considered hiking the Appalachian Trail, but decided he “wanted to do something exotic” instead. Sanford says he went alone, and that he spent time driving along the coast. He also says he changed his return itinerary to fly in to Atlanta, not Columbia, in order to avoid the media.

• c. 10:30 a.m.: Sanford’s office announces a 2 p.m. press conference.

• c. 2:30 p.m.: Sanford admits to an affair in his press conference. “I’ve been unfaithful to my wife…with a dear, dear friend from Argentina,” he says. The affair apparently began about a year ago. He also says he will resign as chair of the Republican Governors Association.

Watch Sanford explain how the relationship began:

• c. 2:34 p.m.: In response to a reporter’s question, Sanford says he went to Argentina to end the affair, and that he and his wife have been working through the issue for about five months.

• c. 4:58 p.m.: MSNBC reports that First Lady Jenny Sanford asked her husband to leave two weeks before his public admission today.

• late afternoon and evening: Jenny Sanford issues a statement, The State releases e-mails exchanged between Gov. Sanford and an Argentinian woman named Maria, and more. See the full coverage here.

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