Blagojevich records may stay undisclosed

Dec. 22, 2008 at 10:15 AM
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CHICAGO, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- President-elect Barack Obama's pledged disclosure of staff contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich may exclude e-mails and notes, a transition aide said.

Stephanie Cutter, an Obama spokeswoman, said the transition team was not covered by a public information law Politico cited when requesting copies of staffers' e-mails and notes about Blagojevich's efforts to fill Obama's vacant Senate seat, the Washington publication reported. Blagojevich was arrested for federal corruption violations, including trying to peddle Obama's Senate seat.

Asked whether the records would voluntarily be released, Cutter said: "Let's wait and see what we put out after our internal review. I don't even know if there's any correspondence to be had, so one step at a time."

An exemption in federal disclosure laws allows presidential transition teams to keep their documents out of the public record, Politico said Sunday.

An aide to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who favors government transparency, said the exemption is leading the senator to consider introducing legislation that could force the Obama transition team to preserve records of contacts with Blagojevich regarding the seat.

Representatives from two government watchdog groups -- the Center for Responsive Politics and Public Citizen -- called on Obama to release any records related to Blagojevich and the Senate seat.

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