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Vermont: State can keep Dean records sealed

Attorney general's filing made with state's superior court

Howard Dean tours Venture Industries, which makes car parts in Seabrook, New Hampshire, on Tuesday. The state's UAW chapter has announced it will endorse Dean.
Howard Dean tours Venture Industries, which makes car parts in Seabrook, New Hampshire, on Tuesday. The state's UAW chapter has announced it will endorse Dean.

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(CNN) -- The state of Vermont has indicated it will defend former Gov. Howard Dean's right to keep his records sealed.

In a filing Tuesday with the Vermont Superior Court, Attorney General William Sorrell asked the court to dismiss the complaint filed by Washington-based group Judicial Watch, which is seeking to unseal the records.

"Judicial Watch Inc. is not presently entitled to inspect the gubernatorial papers that were sealed by Governor Dean," the filing said.

The terms for sealing 145 boxes of documents were agreed upon by Dean and the secretary of state in a memorandum of understanding that was attached to the filing.

The state filing states that two governors before Dean sealed some of records, as well.

Dean's records are to be sealed until January 10, 2013.

The sealing of the records has been used by various Democratic candidates -- including Joe Lieberman -- to criticize Dean.

"Howard Dean likes to present himself as a straight talker. But he took an extra long walk from straight talk when he sealed his records as governor and recalled his letters from state agencies just to avoid potential political embarrassment," Lieberman said in a statement released earlier this month.

In an interview with Vermont Public Radio in January, Dean insinuated the records were sealed to protect him.

"Well, there are future political considerations. You wouldn't want anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time in any future endeavor," Dean said.

Since then he has dismissed the remark and said he will leave it up to the court to decide the fate of the records.


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