Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Monday he has assigned an attorney from his Complex Litigation Division to review a federal panel’s decision to close the National Archives at Seattle.
“If, in our opinion, the administration did not follow the law, there would be a lawsuit,” he said.
Ferguson did not have a timeline on a decision — “could be a couple of days, a week, a couple of weeks,” he said, depending on the complexity of the issue.
The Public Buildings Reform Board, which examines ways to trim federal properties deemed excess, has recommended the sale of the 73-year-old archives building and its 10-acre site on Sand Point Way Northeast. The archives are a repository for all federal records generated in the Pacific Northwest.
In a news release Monday, the National Archives said the date of the closure has not been set, but the sale of the facility is expected to take about 18 months. The archives has requested to stay in the Sand Point building for another three years after the sale.
With the sale, nearly 1 million boxes and numerous other archival records would be moved to National Archives storage in Kansas City and Riverside, California.
The recommendation was approved Friday by the U.S. Office of Management and the Budget. It’s been decried by historians, Pacific Northwest tribes, all senators from Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Idaho, and eight of the 10 Washington state representatives to Congress.
Ferguson’s office has filed 55 lawsuits against the Trump administration, and of the 24 decisions so far rendered on them, all have been in favor of his office.
Ferguson said the primary reason for the wins is that Trump’s administration “violated a seemingly arcane rule called the Administrative Procedure Act.”
The act, passed in 1946, said Ferguson, says that in rule making “the president must have a rationale, disclose that rationale to the public, and give the public an opportunity to speak about the changes.”
He said he doesn’t know if the act would apply in the closure of the National Archives here — there were no public hearings by the federal board. That’s why, he said, his staff is doing the research.
Ferguson said the decision to close the archives has angered many in the Northwest, including his sister, Ann Ferguson, curator of the Seattle Collection at the Seattle Public Library.
“She was totally shocked,” he said.
Ferguson said that his father, Murray Ferguson, a facilities manager at Boeing, was a history buff who frequently visited the National Archives in Seattle, and introduced each of his seven children to it.