Witness Relocation Program?

Jonathan Garthwaite
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Posted: Nov 16, 2007 9:32 AM

Obama, the man without a past...

Barack Obama, who's been scolding Hillary Rodham Clinton for not hastening the release of records from her time as first lady, says he can't step up and produce his own records from his days in the Illinois state Senate. He says he hasn't got any.

"I don't have -- I don't maintain -- a file of eight years of work in the state Senate because I didn't have the resources available to maintain those kinds of records," he said at a recent campaign stop in Iowa. He said he wasn't sure where any cache of records might have gone, adding, "It could have been thrown out. I haven't been in the state Senate now for quite some time."

In the early 90's, I spent several months helping a few conservative state representatives, who had surprisingly won longshot elections, get their offices set up.  Because they were planning to be citizen legislators -- serve one or two terms and then go back to their day job -- they didn't see the need to file all their letters, memos, correspondence with constituents.  They weren't planning a career so they weren't focused on building a political machine, donor lists, or shrines to their effectiveness -- they just did the job they were elected to do.

Somehow, I don't think Obama can say the same.  It doesn't pass the smell test.  He's been focused on the White House -- despite denials -- since the day he took his first oath as state senator.  This strikes me as a deliberate preemptive (but clever) defensive move against future opponents digging through his legislative past.

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said Wednesday that "Obama has a track record of leading the way on reform and disclosure," adding that "correspondence with state agencies and records of requests Obama made to them on behalf of his constituents are available to the public and have been accessed by our opponents and members of the news media."

Pressed for details, LaBolt said Obama did not keep any correspondence with the general public. Ditto for letters to or from state associations and lobbyists, memos on legislation and correspondence with Illinois state agencies. The campaign said Illinois agencies have copies of his requests for information or help, but accessing those records would involve contacting the agencies and asking them to comb though eight years of records to find correspondence from Obama.

Very convenient.