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GOP wants McAuliffe gubernatorial records made available

December 13, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Republicans are pushing to make sure former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s records from his time in office are available to the public if he runs for president.

House Republican leaders are backing legislation that would require the Library of Virginia to catalog and make public gubernatorial records within a year of a governor leaving office.

Library officials have for years said they lack adequate staff to process huge amounts of emails and other gubernatorial records any faster. Governors and their staff hand over their records to the library once they leave office. Under state law, the records don’t have to be released under public records requests while being cataloged.

The result is a lengthy limbo for the records of high-profile politicians. The library is currently still processing records of the administration of former Gov. Tim Kaine, who left office in 2010 and is now a U.S. senator.

“In the era of the Internet and with technology being as advanced as it is today, Virginians are still being forced to wait 10 years to have access to official correspondence from past governor’s administrations,” said House Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert, who is the main sponsor the bill.

McAuliffe, a Democrat, left office in January and is considering a potential 2020 presidential run. As governor, he often had an acrimonious relationship with Republican leaders.

A spokesman for House Republican, Parker Slaybaugh, said the measure isn’t aimed at McAuliffe but is “just about good governance.”

Still, a timely release of McAuliffe’s records would almost certainly draw a close scrutiny if he were to run for president. Journalists and researchers poured over a partial release of Kaine’s records when he was picked as Hillary Clinton’s running mate during her 2016 presidential campaign.

A spokeswoman for McAuliffe did not immediately return requests for comment.

State Archivist Sandra Treadway said she understands Republicans’ frustrations and said the library is committed to transparency. But she said cataloging takes time because specialized expertise and technology are needed to make sure the records are properly identified and preserved for future use.

She said the library lacks the resources to meet the legislation’s one-year deadline, even with a recent $600,000 boost from the state budget for digital catalog upgrades. Treadway said the legislation as written could require the library to stop work on other collections, upsetting historians and genealogists.

“That may be a choice we’ll have to make, but it’ll be an extremely unpopular one,” she said.

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