State archive deluged with requests for Dean records

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(Host) Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says there’s a lot of interest these days in the public papers of former governor Howard Dean, as Dean’s presidential campaign becomes more popular. Markowitz says she may have to add additional staff to deal with the growing number of people researching Dean’s past.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Is there something in Howard Dean’s political past that could embarrass the former governor in his campaign to win the Democratic presidential nomination? And is Dean accurately portraying his accomplishments during his 11 and a half years in office ? Apparently a lot of people want to know the answer to these questions.

Dean’s public papers are housed at the State Archives in the Secretary of State’s office in Montpelier. Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says interest in Dean’s public papers is skyrocketing:

(Markowitz) “It’s up remarkably since he’s been doing well in the presidential race. So much so that we’re starting to think about whether or not we need to go to the Legislature to ask for additional staffing on a temporary basis.”

(Kinzel) The Secretary of State’s office allows the researchers to remain anonymous but Markowitz has a pretty good idea of who’s investigating Dean’s political past.

(Markowitz) “It could be opposition research, it could be background research that reporters might be doing, and you know of course if you think about it, it’s not unexpected. Howard Dean’s doing remarkably well nationally and people will be interested in what did he do as governor, what is his record as he’s talking about domestic policy issues and making claims about what he’s accomplished here in Vermont. It’s not surprising that people would want to come to our office to verify that.”

(Kinzel) When Dean left office he took the unusual step of sealing some key documents for a 10-year period. Past governors have used their right of executive privilege to seal their key papers for only six years. Markowitz says there’s a clear distinction between the public papers and the private papers that Dean has chosen to seal for a decade.

(Markowitz) “Those are very often the policy documents, the documents that show the rationale and the thought process that went behind adopting policies. The records that are currently open, though, are the governor’s correspondence, records of actions taken on a variety of things, actually. But most notably it’s the correspondence of the governor. So for example there’s a big box of correspondence on the civil unions law.”

(Kinzel) Markowitz says she may seek additional funds for the archives division to help deal with the increased workload in next winter’s supplemental budget bill.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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