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Published August 21, 2012, 11:36 AM

Senator Kent Conrad donates 'treasure trove' of papers

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad announced Tuesday that his official papers will be digitized and made public after he leaves office this year.

By: DALE WETZEL,Associated Press, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad announced Tuesday that his official papers will be digitized and made public after he leaves office this year.

Conrad described the papers as a "rich treasure trove" of state and national history, with details on everything from farm bill negotiations to the financial rescue of North Dakota's Great Plains Synfuels Plant in the 1980s and efforts to get disaster aid for Grand Forks after the Red River flooded the city in 1997.

The documents include speeches, charts, drafts of legislation, letters and schedules, along with hundreds of photographs and recordings.

They will be donated to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where Conrad earned a master's degree in business administration, and be available to the public through the school and the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

"I say to the historians out there, 'Have at it.' We're certainly providing you everything that I know that exists," Conrad said at a news conference announcing the gift.

Conrad and Steven Knapp, president of George Washington, said the papers will be digitized and searchable on the Internet. They would fill 600 boxes, a university statement said.

Conrad, 64, is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. The Democrat was first elected to the Senate in 1986, when he defeated incumbent Republican Mark Andrews. Conrad was North Dakota's tax commissioner at the time.

He announced in January 2011 that he would not seek re-election.

Conrad said the donation would include "everything," including documents detailing allegations that Conrad received favorable rates on home mortgage loans from Countrywide Financial Corp., which was once one of the nation's largest mortgage lenders. The failing company was acquired by Bank of America in 2008.

A Senate Ethics Committee investigation concluded Conrad "got no sweetheart deal, after the press wrote 500 stories saying I did get a sweetheart deal," the senator said. "I think if people study Countrywide, they'll come out feeling that I was completely vindicated."

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