5-year shelf life for Pa. public officials' disclosure forms
Anyone with Internet access will be able to read the 2012 financial interest statements disclosing gifts accepted by Pennsylvania's public officials.
Those gifts include Turkish robes for the governor and Waterford crystal for the lieutenant governor.
But after five years, the state Ethics Commission doesn't keep such records on hand.
And, within the past few years, the Pennsylvania State Archives decided it would stop taking them as well. What's more, the agency has destroyed old disclosure forms going back to 1979.
Archives director David Haury says his agency didn't take the decision lightly.
"If we decide if something doesn't have value and destroy it or don't take it, then it's gone forever. So ... this is a serious responsibility," he said. "We have limitations in terms of space and staff, so we have to be somewhat selective in what we take."
Haury says the financial interest form collection wasn't being used by anyone for research -- the records were just sitting there.
But space was also a key consideration. The State Archives keeps 70,000 boxes of documents in a 20-story tower that holds just enough room for about 2,500 more.
Haury said making the decision to send the ethics documents to the shredder freed up a space the size of an SUV.
The agency receives more than 1,000 boxes for permanent storage every year.