Warner Todd Huston
November 21, 2007
Obama's state government records are missing
By Warner Todd Huston

The media has been on a low buzz about the fact that Hillary and Bill Clinton have made efforts to slow the release of millions of pages of documents that pertain Hillary's actions during Bill's White House years. What, these critics wonder, are the Clintons hiding with their reticence to release these documents? It is a good question, indeed. But, flying low under this Clinton document-gate radar is the stonewalling of a release of documents by another candidate for the Democrat Party nomination for president; Barack Obama.

While in State government here in Illinois, Barack was known as a "nice guy," but has little to show for his years in state government. He was never particularly known by the public at large as a vocal leader and was rarely out in front of any issue. In fact, few Illinoisans even knew his name at all until he ran for the Senate seat against Alan Keyes. He was an unknown, a non-entity as far as state politics was concerned.

Yet, the Obama camp has made no effort to assist investigators to look into his state records. In fact, Senator Obama has blithely claimed that his records have been "thrown out." Chicago columnist Lynn Sweet reports that Obama, who has called for "transparency in government" from his rivals, is not much interested in revealing his own documents.

    "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". ... "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."

But, the Chicago Tribune has been trying for months to get the Senator's state papers and has met with no response from either the state of Illinois or the Obama camp. Even Tim Russert brought up the candidate's state archives to an evasive Obama.

On the November 11th episode of Meet the Press, Russert brought up the records question.

    You talked about Senator Clinton having records released from the Clinton Library regarding her experience as first lady, and yet when you were asked about, "What about eight years in the state senate of Illinois," you said, "I don't know." Where, where are the where are your records?

Obama replied that "every single piece of information, every document related to state government was kept by the state of Illinois," but that other records do not exist.

That is a pretty convenient situation when questions of his dealings with shady businessman Tony Rezco comes into play. In fact, it is pretty convenient all around when it comes to who Obama met with and who he dealt with while in state government.

What ever the case, Obama's own document-gate is not getting near the attention that the Clinton's stonewalling is getting but it should get at least as much. Obama is right, of course, to say that the Clinton's are defeating transparency in government by trying to slow or stymie investigators from looking into past records. After all, he should know from experience.

© Warner Todd Huston


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Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston's thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites... (more)

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