Montana’s governor has been absent from his post while floodwaters have swept part of his state.
Greg Gianforte is on a “long-scheduled personal trip” with his wife, his office confirmed. Citing security concerns, the location was not disclosed — but the news site Newsy says it has a photo of the Gianfortes taken Wednesday in Tuscany.
A spokesperson said that Gianforte had been out of the country since Saturday and planned to cut the trip short and return to survey flood damage on Friday, NBC Montana reported.
Exceptionally heavy rainfall over the weekend in an area including southwest Montana caused flooding and mudslides. Buildings were swept away and power cut off in some towns. All entrances to Yellowstone National Park were closed on Monday, and many park visitors were stranded.
The governor’s absence was noticed when a disaster declaration Tuesday from his office bore his stand-in’s signature.
The news has drawn comparisons to Sen. Ted Cruz’s much-criticized trip to Mexico during a devastating Texas storm last year.
Gianforte, 61, previously a U.S. House member, is in his first term as governor. He made national headlines during his 2017 congressional campaign when he body-slammed a reporter. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and received a sentence including community service and anger management classes.