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State Threatens to Sue USC to Recover Brown’s Papers

February 22, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The California secretary of state’s office is threatening to sue the University of Southern California to get back 1,600 cartons of memorabilia left behind by former Gov. Edmund G. ″Jerry″ Brown Jr., an official said Monday.

Brown, who served two terms ending in 1982, gave the letters, memos, videotapes, pamphlets and personal correspondence to USC 5 1/2 years ago. The collection includes about 4 million items.

But Secretary of State March Fong Eu contends his action violates a 1975 amendment to the California Public Records Act.

The amendment declares gubernatorial and legislative papers ″public records,″ although USC’s chief Sacramento lobbyist, former state Controller Houston Flournoy, claims that Brown’s papers fall under an exception for ″personal correspondence″ and memos from the governor’s legal affairs secretary.

On Jan. 20, Mrs. Eu’s office sent a letter to USC threatening to sue. USC received the letter in early February, and a suit will be filed within 30 days after that unless the matter is resolved, Ms. Warren said.

Brown has indicated he chose USC as repository for the documents after the University of California at Berkeley turned them down because of lack of space and the State Archives balked at the former governor’s insistence that the agency hire former Brown aide Lana Beckett to oversee the collection.

USC hired Beckett but insists that she won the job in an open competition.

Mrs. Eu, who as secretary of state also heads the State Archives, argues that the all documents should be in the archives.

Brown’s father, Edmund G. ″Pat″ Brown Sr., left records from his eight years as governor to UC Berkeley. Former Gov. Ronald Reagan left his papers to the private Hoover Institution at Stanford. But both those administrations preceded the 1975 law.

Assembly GOP leader Pat Nolan has introduced a measure that would invalidate the 1975 law. The bill passed the Assembly last year and is now in committee in the Senate.

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