JOHNSTON, IA.—White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)—whose staff has been deflecting questions about the whereabouts of his state senate papers--said Friday he was not certain whether they still exist.
Obama made the comment after I asked him, “Where is the stuff?” VIDEO LINK
The context for pressing Obama on his state papers is this: He is campaigning as a champion of government transparency and slamming chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) for not pushing the Clinton Library in Arkansas to speed up the release of papers from her tenure as First Lady.
At a press conference, I asked Obama, “Do your state senate papers still exist? If they do, just where are they? And would you ever intend to make them public to be responsive to some requests?
“Nobody has requested specific documents," Obama said.
However, the Chicago Tribune reported it has asked for documents from Obama’s Springfield years and never received a response. The Chicago Sun-Times has also been asking about Obama’s papers. Records from Obama’s office—if he kept them—would potentially show appointments with lobbyists, policy memos, meetings, etc., items the state would not have. Obama has no legal obligation to archive his state papers.
"I was in the state senate for eight years," Obama said. "I had one staff person, that was what was allocated. I don't have archivists in the state senate. I don't have the Barack Obama state senate library available to me, so we had a bunch of file cabinets. I do not have a whole bunch of records from those years. Now, if there are particular documents that you are interested in, then you should let us know.”
I said my question was not about specific records. “When the office was packed up, where is the stuff.?
“You know I’m not certain, Lynn," Obama said. "As I said, I didn’t have the resources to ensure that all this stuff was archived in some way…. it could have been thrown out.”