Gov. Nathan Deal skipped town over the weekend for an economic development trip. Just where he went is being treated like a state secret.
His office won't disclose where the state's top elected official journeyed or whom he visited. His public schedule is blank. His name was on the agenda for Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration but he had already held his own service days earlier. And his speech to lawmakers on the budget-writing committee is scheduled for Thursday, two days after the main group's meeting.
We have a pretty good idea where he went. Two officials with knowledge of his trip say he's across the pond in the United Kingdom. Deal's office won't confirm or deny this, of course, adding to the intrigue.
Update: State economic commissioner Chris Carr confirmed the team was, indeed, in the U.K. when he posted on Facebook a few minutes ago: "Back from the UK. Great trip. We'll go anywhere and everywhere to bring jobs and investment to Georgia!"
This was never a repeat of the Mark Sanford scenario. Sanford, now in Congress, famously disappeared for an extramarital rendezvous with his Argentine lover while serving as South Carolina's governor. Deal's aides, meanwhile, made clear his journey was an economic development venture. They just wouldn't say where.
There were plenty of business potentials in the UK for Deal's team.
The country is Georgia's No. 4 foreign trade partner, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, behind Canada, China and Mexico. It's home to countless firms seeking expansions, including a booming auto industry, aerospace business, shipbuilding center and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
And don't forget this: A trio of Deal aides trekked to London to scout business opportunities (and take in a Falcons game) just weeks before the election.
The reason for all the secrecy? The governor’s office sends official releases about his trade missions and makes details of his shorter trips available. But this time, they said, they worried the publicity could jeopardize the state’s recruiting efforts.
Just don't ask Sanford's ex-staffers about Deal's whereabouts. Take it from Joel Sawyer, who was Sanford's press secretary during his Argentinian escapade.