ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: The case of the missing governor has a new twist.
The State newspaper in South Carolina is reporting that Gov. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., has been located as of Wednesday morning -- in the Atlanta airport.
That’s after his whereabouts were unknown since last Thursday. And it turns out he was in Argentina for the past seven days -- not, as his staff had said, hiking the Appalachian Trail.
In a brief interview with The State, Sanford said he didn’t know why his staff said he was hiking in the United States when he was actually in Buenos Aires, but said that “in fairness to his staff,” he had told them he might go hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
Sanford added: “I don't know how this thing got blown out of proportion. ... It was a long [legislative] session and I needed a break.”
The revelation is likely to raise a new round of questions for Sanford, a potential 2012 presidential candidate -- including whether he misled his staff and family about his whereabouts; whether he was reachable during his time away from the state; and who was governing South Carolina during his absence.
South Carolina’s lieutenant governor, Andre Bauer, takes over gubernatorial duties when the governor leaves the state. But Bauer has said he wasn't aware of Sanford's plan.
"Our job is to serve if needed. We have talked to the governor's office, and they tell us they know where the governor is, and that they will call us if needed. They have told us if anything occurs, they will call us," a spokesperson for Bauer told ABC News earlier this week.
UPDATE: The plot grows thicker still.ABC’s Joe Goldman reports that a US embassy official in Buenos Aires tells him that the embassy had “absolutely no idea” that Sanford was in Argentina. The embassy official added that this comes "from out of left field -- it would be extremely odd that a US governor would not check in with the embassy."