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What Is The DC Government Trying To Hide In The Archives Building?

Josh Fatzick

It’s no secret that the District of Columbia Archives building is in terrible shape, but what exactly is the D.C. government trying to hide in there?

Several emails obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act request show the bureaucratic foot-dragging involved in keeping a reporter out of the dilapidated, old warehouse that plays home to thousands of priceless American history artifacts.

In March, TheDCNF began its quest to gain access to the D.C. Archives, and nine months later, it is still unsuccessful.

TheDCNF sent the first email requesting access to the archives on March 16. TheDCNF sent two more emails on March 17 and 18, which garnered no response.

Finally, on March 20, Bill Branch, D.C. public records administrator, responded and said TheDCNF needed to go through Mayor Muriel Bowser’s press office to gain access to the archives building.

Several attempts to contact the mayor’s press office were disregarded.

Fed up at this point, TheDCNF attempted to gain access the old-fashioned way. Again, it was unsuccessful.

These emails appear to show how, exactly, TheDCNF was given the run around.

In the first, TheDCNF asks for permission to the DC Archives.

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In the second, TheDCNF receives a generic response that the email was forwarded to the D.C. Office of Secretary.

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The third email is where it gets interesting. Lauren Vaughan, the secretary of the District of Columbia, emails Mike Czin, Bowser’s number one press flak, informing him of TheDCNF’s interest in visiting the archives building. The importance level of the email: high.

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Czin, seemingly unaware that the archives even exist, responds by asking what TheDCNF would see in the archive building.

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Bill Rice, a spokesman for the non-profit group Friends of the D.C. Archives, answered that question at a D.C. Council meeting on March 12, where he told lawmakers leaky roofs and an inadequate ventilation system have caused an untold amount of damage to artifacts and paintings in the building.

“I’ve certainly heard stories of people not getting the kind of service and access to the records there that they should,” Bill Rice told the council. “I’m a little hesitant to say this publicly, but the security is also something that should be looked at.”

In the last email of the chain, Vaughan moves to take the conversation offline, possibly to avoid a paper trail.

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What did Czin and Vaughan talk about during that phone conversation? Was there even a phone conversation?

When asked about the conversation in a follow-up email, Czin completely disregarded TheDCNF’s questions and offered up a canned response.

Here is TheDCNF email:

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Here is Czin’s response:

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Vaughan did not respond to a request for comment.

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