PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer has taken a nearly week-long out-of-state work trip that was shrouded in secrecy Monday as she skipped an event to certify election ballots and her spokesman refused to disclose her location.
Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said in a brief email to The Associated Press that Brewer was unavailable to participate in the general election canvass Monday morning because she was out of the state on official business.
"That is all I can disclose at this time," Benson added.
He later reiterated that during a brief phone interview during which he said he could not respond to several questions about Brewer's whereabouts.
Under the Arizona Constitution, Secretary of State Ken Bennett is the acting governor because Brewer is absent from the state.
Bennett said his office late Friday received the customary notification of Brewer's absence.
Bennett spokesman Matt Roberts said the notification sent by a Brewer scheduling aide said the governor would be gone Sunday morning to Saturday afternoon.
Roberts said Bennett and his staff did not receive any additional information about Brewer's whereabouts.
Bennett plans to be in Arizona the entire week and is unaware of anything that he will have to do as acting governor, Roberts said.
However, during the canvass earlier Monday, Bennett signed election documents as acting governor while his assistant Jim Drake did so as the acting secretary of state.
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, criticized Brewer's absence from the canvass, saying it displayed a lack of leadership.
"It is disappointing that the state's top elected official seems to have such little interest in the results of this election," he said.
Benson did not immediate respond to a call for comment on Campbell's comments.
A year ago, Bennett made news as acting governor when he acted on behalf of Brewer, who was out of state at the time, to remove the chairwoman of the state redistricting commission. The removal was immediately ratified by the state Senate but later overturned by the Arizona Supreme court.
Brewer and Bennett are Republicans.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
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