Skip to comments.Former Corbett aide significantly cut email keeping rule
Posted on 02/15/2014 5:06:43 AM PST by FlJoePa
HARRISBURG Former Acting Attorney General William H. Ryan Jr., a top aide to Tom Corbett when the governor was attorney general, changed the period for retaining the office's emails from five years to six months, according to a document released on Friday by Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
The revelation was disclosed as Kane reviews whether Corbett's investigation of serial predator Jerry Sandusky was slowed for political purposes. It took almost three years until Sandusky's arrest in November 2011 11 months after Corbett became governor.
I can assure you it had nothing to do with protecting anybody, Ryan said of his decision in February 2011 to shorten the email retention, one month after Corbett became governor. The idea that he changed the policy to squelch Sandusky-related emails is ludicrous, he said. We had an investigation going.
Asked whether Corbett suggested that he change the policy, Ryan said, No. He said he acted on the recommendation of an information technology officer whom he did not name.
Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni said the governor would have had no say on any actions of the Office of Attorney General, an independent agency, once Ryan was in charge.
Corbett, a Shaler Republican, is seeking re-election.
Ryan was interim attorney general until Corbett appointed Linda Kelly to be the top prosecutor from May 2011 to mid-January 2013, when Kane took office.
Ryan became Corbett's appointee to chair the Pennsylvania Gaming Control board, with a $150,000 salary, in August 2011.
Kane, a Clarks Summit Democrat, last week said her office is reconstructing emails that were deleted because of a previous email retention policy. She said that's why her review, conducted by a law school professor she hired as a deputy attorney general for the task, has taken one year.
The Tribune-Review requested the email retention policies of Kane and prior attorneys general. Her policy is to keep emails for two years, her office said.
Ryan said the only thing political about the matter is Kane. The Sandusky investigation has been a political matter, as far as the current attorney general is concerned.
What really matters is that jurors in 2012 convicted Sandusky, a former Penn State University assistant football coach, of 45 counts of molesting boys, Ryan said.
That gets lost, said Ryan.
Kane is fulfilling a campaign promise to investigate how the office handled the Sandusky case. Her office declined to comment.
Six months, I got to tell you, blows my mind, Eric Epstein, a founder of the government reform group Rock the Capital, said of Ryan's policy change.
Ryan said five years is far too long to keep emails, and storage was expensive for the agency.
A copy of the policy change, which the Trib obtained independently, states: Once messages reach the six-month threshold they will be automatically and permanently deleted from the (OAG) Office of Attorney General storage environment.
University of Pittsburgh Law School professor John Burkoff warned against reading too much into it.
It tells me nothing, said Burkoff. From my point of view, six months is much too short, although I recognize that reasonable people can certainly differ about that. But the issue here, apparently, is not what is an appropriate time period for record retention, but rather, is it possible to resurrect records after their supposed destruction?
J. Wesley Leckrone, a political science professor at Widener University, said: Six months to five years is somewhat interesting. He agreed with Burkoff that no one should draw any conclusions but said on its face, the decision does raise suspicions.
How would Tom Corbett have felt if Bill DeWeese had done that, based on a House Democrat policy to keep email for six months? Epstein said.
Corbett, as attorney general, investigated the former Democratic House speaker. DeWeese of Waynesburg was convicted in 2012 of using tax money for campaigns.
Public perception about email deletion is important for public officials to keep in mind, especially in high-profile cases, said Terry Mutchler, director of the Office of Open Records. Emails vary widely in importance, she said.
An innocuous email such as one stating Let's have lunch should have a much shorter lifespan than one dealing with government policy, she said.
For certain records, six months wouldn't pass the gut check, Mutchler said.
The Office of Attorney General sets its policies and is not governed by the Office of Administration, which oversees record retention policies of most state agencies, Pagni said.
You will never catch me ever voting again in Pennsylvania.
Many companies permanently erase all emails over 30 days old. They do this because people write things that can not be defended in court.
Oh you will.. and it will be a democrat vote.. Even if you don’t personally cast it.
Just like Governor C a big lib!!!
But in a somewhat related matter the Pennsylvania State Police announced this week that they are taking over the investigatiopn of the mysterious disappearance of former Centre County DA Geiger.
DA Geiger disappeared several years ago just after he declined to prosecute Sandusky.
Yeah, but Noonan couldn’t find his ass with a compass - just another corbutt lackey.
I think Gricar either committed suicide (like his brother) or the drug mob got him.
‘of an information technology officer ‘
Did he flash his badge or something?
A short email message...
“Let’s have lunch.”
Another short email message...
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,
Polling by the river:
Quinnipiac poll (they suck but for what it’s worth)
Tom Wolf (Who?) 52%, Corbett (R) 33%
Allyson Schwartz 44%, Corbett 38%.
Who is this Wolf? That margin is frightening even from a Quinnipiac.
RE Quinnipiac: Eh. Dem polling firm.
RE Wolf: He was a schlub that worked for Rendell. Pretends to be “one of the little guys, the working man”. He’s another worthless POS Dem.
Corbett should pull it out OK. He’s got a record to stand on, and gun folk that I’ve spoken with - who are a considerable number on this state - like the guy. Business likes the guy too.
The election is a long way off.
Schwartz is another another Abortion Barbie. She isn’t getting anywhere near the Gov mansion.
So who do You want to replace him?
Corbett may be many things, but “corrupt” doesn’t come to mind.
I’d this lunatic dem AG who refuses to enforce Pennsylvania law is more of the problem...
Wolf has spent a crapload of money on ads and was at 40% in the Dem primary poll also taken by Q at the same time, blowing away the competition. He’s to the PA Dem race what Rauner (or whatever that RINO’s name is) is to the IL GOP race.
I laugh at Schwartz, I bet she thought she’d be the rat frontrunner.
” Hes to the PA Dem race what Rauner (or whatever that RINOs name is) is to the IL GOP race.”
I’ve decided it’s spelled “Rinoauner”. ;d
Disturbing, I fear they will both be elected. Rinoauner, I fear, will be another George Ry(no)an.
PA has a streak as you know of the Governorship switching off every 8 years going back to the 50’s. It’s bound to get snapped eventually.
I don’t remember if I ever found out who the last PA Governor to lose reelection was. Let me check Our campaigns. Ok it looks like it last happened when they served 3 year terms under the 1838 constitution. Rat William Bigler lost reelection to WHIG James Pollcok in 1854. Under the 1874 constitution (in force through the 1966 election, GOP Governor Ray Shafer was barred from running in 1970) Governors were limited to 1 four year term so PA has had less opportunity for an incumbent to lose.
Bigler himself had beaten incumbent Whig William Freame Johnston in 1851 (2 in row went down!) and later served a partial term in the US Senate.