Nobody seems to know the whereabouts of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R). (See update below.) The controversial governor, best known for championing Arizona's hardball show-me-your-papers immigration law and wagging her finger in President Obama's face, left Arizona on Sunday, after informing Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R) — who is acting governor, per state law — that she would be gone for a week on what her staff calls official state business. But she also skipped some pretty official-sounding business, like the second day of the Western Governors' Association meeting, which she was hosting, and the official certification of vote tallies from November's election.
Bennett says he doesn't know where Brewer is or what she's doing — the acting governor is not trying to "hunt her down," says his spokesman, and Brewer's staff "obviously knows where she is, and they are not comfortable revealing that at this time." The Arizona media is flummoxed, turning her disappearance into a half-exasperated game of "Where's Brewer?" And the Grand Canyon State's congressional delegation? "Everybody keeps asking me," but "I didn't know she was missing," Sen. Jon Kyl (R) tells The Hill. "I didn't know about this," agreed Sen. John McCain (R). "Jon just told me that there was some issue that she's not around."
So, where is Brewer? She was spotted on a Washington, D.C.-bound plane, and she visited a wounded Arizona combat vet at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Monday. But that leaves five mysterious days before she's expected back in Arizona.
"There is some historical precedent for Republican governors fleeing their states and attendant responsibilities," says Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair. "We speak specifically of Mark Sanford, South Carolina's histrionic former governor," whose story of communing with nature turned out to be communing with his Argentine mistress in Brazil.... Stop right there, says Dan Amira at New York. "Everyone has already made the Appalachian Trail joke, so just don't."
Alright, says Ilya Gerner at Comedy Central's Indecision. If she's not (wink wink) "hiking the Appalachian Trail," maybe she's "actually hiking the Appalachian Trail," which, after all, isn't far from D.C. Or she could be flying to Afghanistan to visit our troops, "flying to Afghanistan to escape Arizona's term limits and run for office in a suitably extremist district," sneaking into Mexico "just for the irony," or perhaps hanging out with international-manhunt-subject John McAfee.
At this point, it's not even a given that Brewer's aides know how she's spending this week, says Karie Dozer at Arizona radio station KTAR. Personally, "I don't care if the governor is getting a facelift, visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or just wanted to see RGIII in person," but she can't just go rogue.
I don't believe that the public has a right to know where every state employee is at all times, even one who happens to be the governor. She has a right to privacy, to a point. If she is taking a personal trip, she should be able to say so. But the governor's staff, without question, needs to know her whereabouts. When they don't know, or appear to have been deceived, everyone looks bad.
UPDATE: Bloomberg News reports that Brewer is, in fact, in Afghanistan visiting the troops, citing a person familiar with her schedule. So, point to Comedy Central's Gerner.