New Castle News

Closer Look

February 18, 2014

Corbett aide trimmed time emails must be kept

CNHI — Attorney General Kathleen Kane said one of her predecessors changed office policy to shorten the period before emails are deleted in the midst of the grand jury investigation into allegations against Jerry Sandusky.

Prior to the February 2011 rule change, employees in the Office of Attorney General had been keeping emails for five years, according to a timeline provided to CNHI on Friday.

But in February 2011, a month after Penn State officials appeared before the grand jury, employees in the attorney general’s office began to delete emails after six months.

That decision came while the office was being led by acting attorney general William H. Ryan, who had served as then-Attorney General Tom Corbett’s first deputy attorney general.

By the time Ryan made that decision, Corbett was serving as governor.

Ryan is now serving as chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, a position that pays $150,006 a year.

Ryan said the decision to change to a six-month retention period was done to save money. The move came after consulting with senior staff and information technology experts in the attorney general’s office, he said.

“It had nothing to do with the Sandusky investigation.”

The governor did not direct the policy change, according to Ryan.

“I doubt the governor even knows I did it.”

A spokesman in Corbett’s office agreed, saying the governor had no role in the decision.

“The attorney general is an independent office,” Corbett press secretary Jay Pagni said.

Kane has said the practice of deleting emails significantly slowed her office’s review into the timing of the Sandusky investigation.

After Kane was elected, running on a platform in which she pledged to re-examine the handling of the Sandusky allegations, the attorney general’s office halted the six-month deletion policy at Kane’s request.

The attorney general’s office now requires that emails be kept two years.

Kane has said she’s limited in what she can say about the case because information must be vetted by the supervising judge for the grand jury that recommended charges against Sandusky and three Penn State administrators.

Her office said Friday that no information beyond the timeline could be provided.

The practice of deleting emails after a set period of time seems to contradict practices at most state agencies.

But, state archivist Dave Haury said the attorney general and the auditor general — as independent officials — largely get to set their own rules.

Most state agencies make a distinction between important documents and those that no longer serve a public purpose, Haury said. Regardless what time period is used in a retention policy, it could be problematic if documents are deleted while they are still relevant, he said.

“There could be issues that play out over three years,” he said.

“You wouldn’t want to delete the early emails and then not be able to determine what you said at the beginning.”

(Email: jfinnerty@cnhi.com)

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • phone.jpg Attorney general warns of phone scams

    Assorted scams in the commonwealth have prompted a warning from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said several scams have been reported to the Bureau of Consumer Protection in recent weeks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • disability.jpg Disabilities group unveils new icon

    Disability Options Network is joining forces with the Accessible Icon Project. Officials of the community organization, located at 1929 E. Washington St., said its new icon will replace the current international symbol for accessibility.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • well.jpg Auditor: State doesn’t have enough inspectors to monitor wells

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Independent hopefuls may widen gubernatorial field

    Just when Pennsylvania voters were getting used to the idea of a gubernatorial election showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, other hopefuls may soon be joining the fray.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • manna.jpg John K. Manna: Measuring the money

    Should we even bother to have an election in November? By some accounts, maybe the results of some contests are already in.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • shooting.jpg Man injured in city shooting

    A man was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital Thursday morning following a shooting on West Lincoln Avenue.

     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • police.jpg Police: Man pulls gun on construction workers

    Construction workers in Neshannock Township flagged down police Thursday claiming a business owner had pulled a gun on them.

     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Shooting witness arrested for giving false name

    State police have arrested a second Detroit area man after questioning him about Sunday’s fatal shooting in Ellwood City. DeMarco Dorian Hoskins, 22, of Highland Park, Mich., was the third man in a private car that transported the deceased to look for a hospital. Hoskins allegedly gave police a false identity when they questioned him as witness.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • bridgerepair.jpg PennDOT seeks outside help to make bridge repairs

    State officials are poised to sign a massive deal that will enlist outside help to rebuild and maintain up to 600 bridges, marking the Corbett administration’s latest foray into privatizing key government functions.

     

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • GALLO_Natalie.jpg County native plays Clinton intern

    Natalie Gallo isn’t an intern, but she’s playing one on the New York stage.

     

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage