RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – 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.”
Obama’s statement that he has no papers from his time in the Illinois statehouse – he left in 2004 – stands in stark contrast to the massive Clinton file stored at the National Archives: an estimated 78 million pages of documents, plus 20 million e-mail messages, packed into 36,000 boxes. While any file from Obama’s time in the state Senate would be far smaller, the idea that no papers exist at all is questioned by one historian.
“Most of those guys do keep this stuff, especially the favorable stuff. They’ve all got egos,” said Taylor Pensoneau, a historian who has written about Illinois legislators and governors and worked with them as a lobbyist for the coal industry. “It goes in scrapbooks or maybe boxes. I don’t think it’s normal practice to say it’s all discarded.”
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.