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Dean is liberal with the truth

By Jill S. Farrell
web posted January 12, 2004

Recently Howard Dean told America, "What we have done is we have stepped aside. We have turned everything over to the attorney general of the state of Vermont. And the attorney general of the state of Vermont will go to court, and a judge will look over every document in our records. And they are free to release whatever they'd like, and that's fine with me."

That seems to be an interesting interpretation of events considering Howard Dean hasn't stepped aside in the suit and has continued to refuse to release public records from his tenure as Vermont governor. As a matter of fact, he continues to be a party to the case and is being represented by taxpayer-funded attorneys from the State of Vermont's Attorney General's office.

Howard Dean

It is Howard Dean who claims the "blanket executive privilege" that is keeping under wraps 145 out of 355 boxes of official documents for the next 10 years (he originally sought a 24-year seal!). Howard Dean, not the State of Vermont, is asserting blanket executive privilege, which is preventing the documents at issue from being released. With a stroke of a pen Dean could unseal his records.

If his taxpayer-funded lawyers have asked a judge to review and release the records, it is news to all of us who have been following this case and find the Democratic Presidential candidate's behavior to be very curious indeed. Judicial Watch, the public interest group that has filed suit against Dean, posted Dean's legal briefs on their web site showing that he has, in fact, continued to assert that the agreement placing the much sought-after records under seal is indeed valid and that Dean is asking that the case be thrown out of court.

If the Vermont court should actually grant that request, it will certainly do nothing to raise Dean's credibility. As Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter says, "At first, Dean said he would open his records when George W. Bush did. Turns out Bush's records were open. Then he said he would let a judge decide, but now he's hiding behind an attorney general he himself appointed. It really makes you wonder what he's hiding."

Dean actually said he had the documents sealed to keep "anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time in any future endeavor." From his lips to God's ears! Any candidate at any time from any sector of life who runs for the Presidency can expect his record to be scrutinized and rightfully so. If Americans had been listening more closely to the skeletons rattling around in Bill Clinton's closet, we could have saved ourselves a worldwide, cigar-toting, impeached embarrassment.

There are certainly legitimate reasons for keeping some needlessly damaging documents out of the public eye for a reasonable amount of time. But Dean has surpassed "reasonable" in percentage (nearly half) and duration (well beyond the six-year term of his predecessor.) This kind of behavior only stimulates his opponents, the media and average citizens who can only wonder at the amount of privilege this executive might grant himself further down the political road.

Jill S. Farrell is Director of Communications for the Free Congress Foundation.

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