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Bush’s papers as governor go to dad’s library

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AUSTIN, Texas — When most Texas governors leave office, they send their documents to the state archives or the state's largest universities, where the public is free to view them.

But President George W. Bush, who served as governor from 1995 to 2000, chose to house his records in his father's George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University, which is administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and not subject to the state's open records law.

The Texas Public Information Act requires that most documents be produced within 10 days of a request, but the presidential library is not equipped to do that since it also is handling presidential material, said Edward Seidenberg, deputy director of the state library and archives commission.

The presidential library will attempt to be responsive, but cannot guarantee it will meet the state requirement, said Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives and Records Administration.

"The turnaround time is just too tight," Cooper said. "Our archivists are already on tight deadlines to meet other requirements."

For now, the national archive will try to fill requests within 90 days, said Bush's attorney, Terri Lacy.

The situation frustrates Tom Smith, Texas director of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group.

"These papers belong to the people of the state of Texas, not to George W. Bush," Smith said. "He can't hide them or give them away, and putting them in his daddy's library doesn't change that one bit."

Lacy said she did not know why Bush chose the presidential library for his records, but insisted he is "absolutely not" trying to hide them.

"It is not his goal in any fashion to attempt to do something like that," she said.

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is monitoring the situation.

"The foundation remains steadfast in its belief that all the working papers during Bush's gubernatorial tenure are public record and subject to the Texas Public Information Act," said Wanda Garner Cash, the group's president, and editor and publisher of The Baytown Sun. "Access to records is important because it's our history and we have those records to verify or deny what went on."

Texas Attorney General John Cornyn is considering whether the state still has the legal rights to the papers and whether they are subject to the Texas Public Information Act.