PUBLIC INFORMATION — "Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown has quietly granted
access to at least three people who requested to dig through more than
2,000 boxes of records documenting his two terms as governor, from 1975
to 1983," reports Chase Davis for California Watch. Brown's people say no one else has asked.
New America Foundation fellow and former LA Times reporter Joe
Mathews documented his approval process in a blog post last week. The others who requested and
received approval are Peter Scheer, of the California First Amendment
Coalition, and a student at the University of Southern California, where
the records are housed.
The records are available to the public only with Brown's written
permission, although Dace Taube, a USC librarian overseeing the
collection said that to her knowledge, "He's never turned anyone down."
There was some confusion over the records last week, with some
journalists and campaign workers buzzing that Brown may have opened them
to the general public something First Amendment advocates have been leaning on him to do. But the rumors turned out to
be unfounded, as both Taube and the Brown campaign said the former
governor had only granted approval to the three people who had asked for
Since it became clear last year that he would enter the gubernatorial
race, Brown has faced pressure to grant unfettered access to the
records, which otherwise would not have been released until either his
death or the year 2033 50 years after his last term ended.
When he was in office, Brown signed the law that first entitled the
public to scrutinize governors' papers, although when and how the
records would be released was disputed for more than a decade after.
Mathews described it this
way last November in the LA Times:
"There's a certain irony here. Brown was the California
governor who, in 1975, finally signed a law that made gubernatorial
papers public records. But after he left office, he fought an extended
legal battle with March Fong Eu, the then-secretary of state, over
exactly what "public" meant.
Eventually a 1988 law forced California governors from thence forward
to turn their records over to the state archives but allowed them to
maintain Brown's access rules."
The records appear to document everything from
day-to-day deliberations inside the Brown administration to letters from
adoring admirers. Republican opposition researchers have been anxious
to dig through the documents, which provide a rare though dated look
into the governing style of a candidate seeking his third term as