A National Archives representative has refuted presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s claim that records about former staffer Tara Reade’s sexual assault complaint against him would be held at the National Archives Office of Fair Employment Practices.
The representative said the office does not keep track of those kinds of records.
“Joe Biden said that Tara Reade’s complaint could only be at the National Archives, at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices,” Business Insider investigations reporter Nicole Einbinder tweeted.
“But, a National Archives spokesperson told me that they do not hold records from that office.”
Joe Biden said that Tara Reade’s complaint could only be at the National Archives, at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices. But, a National Archives spokesperson told me that they do not hold records from that office.
— Nicole Einbinder (@NicoleEinbinder) May 1, 2020
The Fair Employment Practices records are governed by a Senate resolution that says “records containing personal privacy, information closed by statute, and records of executive nomination are closed for 50 years,” Einbinder wrote in Business Insider.
That means if Reade’s complaint exists and was filed in the Office of Fair Employment Practices, the record will remain closed until 2043.
“And if the formal complaint was shared with Biden’s office, it — and any other notes or records regarding Reade and her time working for Biden — would remain sealed until two years after Biden ‘retires from public life,'” Einbinder wrote.
Although Biden’s records were donated to the University of Delaware in 2011, the document policy was changed one day after the former vice president launched his presidential campaign, from being unsealed two years after he retires from public office to two years after he retires from public life.
Biden’s campaign has denied Reade’s allegation, but Friday was the first time he has addressed the issue himself since Reade went public with the details more than a month ago.
“The former staffer has said she filed a complaint back in 1993. But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint. The papers from my Senate years that I donated to the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files. It is the practice of Senators to establish a library of personal papers that document their public record: speeches, policy proposals, positions taken, and the writing of bills,” Biden said in a post on Medium.
“There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be — the National Archives. The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices.
“I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”
Einbinder reported that according to congressional testimony from 1995, 479 people contacted the Fair Employment Practices office between 1992 and 1995 but only 102 entered the five-step “dispute resolution” process that includes a formal complaint and hearing.
A Senate Historical Office staffer told Einbinder that the rules for filing a complaint were complicated and even if Reade brought a complaint, “it is certainly possible that she did not take the prescribed next steps that the statute laid out that the process would not have gone anywhere.”
Members of Congress also maintain ownership of their personal and official records from their time in office, so Biden isn’t legally obligated to release his senatorial papers and can pick through what information he chooses to release.
“I think if a particular collection is not open, there’s potentially a hole in what we know. You can only learn from what’s there, so if you are trying to tell a story, there could be information that you just don’t know about,” Micahel Crespin, the director of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center at the University of Oklahoma, said.
According to Einbinder, Reade isn’t just looking for her sexual assault complaint. She is also looking for notes she says Biden aide Ted Kaufman took when she spoke to him about her allegations.
It’s also important to note that Reade isn’t just looking for the complaint. She has other reasons for wanting the University of Delaware to unseal the records: pic.twitter.com/FUXdj3tUU2
— Nicole Einbinder (@NicoleEinbinder) May 1, 2020
“Joe Biden is running on the platform of character,” Reade said.
“I did come forward in good faith to my supervisors, following protocol about the sexual harassment, was given no assistance. I would like them to show the honesty and courage to at least release my personnel file. Have your public persona match your personal persona, and give me my personal records.”
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