Published December 07, 2003
MONTPELIER, Vt. – Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean (search) said Sunday he will let a judge determine which of his sealed records from Dean's years as Vermont's governor should be made public.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday (search)," Dean said he has decided to use a lawsuit by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch, suing to open the records, as a mechanism to determine which records should be released and which should be kept sealed.
"What we think the best thing to do is to let the judge go through every single document and decide for himself what ought to be revealed and what not to be revealed," Dean said.
At issue are 145 boxes of documents that Dean gave to the state archives when he left office in January with the provision that they not be opened for 10 years. Dean, who served 11 years as governor, gave the state 190 boxes without restrictions on use.
Dean has come under increasing pressure from other Democratic presidential hopefuls and Republican officials to open the sealed documents. Washington-based Judicial Watch (search) filed suit last week.
The fairest system is to have a judge review the documents, Dean said Sunday.
"Clearly our campaign can't review the documents, because nobody would believe that we weren't doing something political," he said. "So let an independent third party -- and I think the Judicial Watch suit gives us the opportunity to let a judge go through every single document."
The practice by Vermont's governors of sealing records when they leave office is not unusual, but the length of time Dean chose is longer than his two predecessors, who imposed time locks of six and 7 years.
The sealed records under discussion contain correspondence that should remain private, Dean said.
"There are some things in there that are really not fair to reveal," Dean said. "Privacy concerns, people writing letters in to me that are private. I mean, everybody admits that if somebody writes a letter to me saying, you know, `Dear Governor, my wife has AIDS' or something like that, that should not be revealed."
Dean, under fire from Republicans and Democrats, is launching a new television ad campaign to deflect the criticism. The new spot begins airing this week in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
In the television ad, Dean says he's gaining momentum and "all over America people are responding.
"Now my opponents are attacking me with negative ads designed to slow our momentum," Dean says in the new 30-second spot. "When you see one of those ads, remember this: They're not trying to stop me, they're trying to stop you."