Thompson Records Sent to Paper Mill

Thompson Records Sent to Paper Mill

Swartz, Nikki

Several hundred boxes of records from the Tommy G. Thompson administration ear-marked for the archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison were destroyed instead. A spokesman for the state Department of Administration confirmed that the records, which were stored at a state warehouse, were inadvertently put on the wrong truck and sent to a Green Bay, Wisconsin, paper mill, where the documents were turned into pulp.

The records that were destroyed represented Thompson’s gubernatorial career, from January 1,1987, through December 31, 2001. Thompson resigned as governor to become secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Officials are trying to determine what was lost. A preliminary investigation determined that about 100 of the boxes c ame from the governor’s office, and the rest originated from other, undetermined state agencies, according to a spokesman.

Some have accused the current administration of intentionally sending the boxes to be destroyed in an attempt to erase Gov. Thompson’s legacy. Assembly Speaker John Gard has publicly questioned Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who has reiterated earlier statements that the destruction was accidental.

Administration Deputy Secretary Laura Engan said someone incorrectly manipulated a spreadsheet listing records that could be destroyed and those that should be retained. Because of the incident, the agency said it will create a records report that requires no human manipulation.

Copyright Association of Records Managers and Administrators May/Jun 2004

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