Finally found: Fife Symington archives surface years later

, The Republic |

For nearly 20 years, state archivists have puzzled, prodded and pushed to locate Fife Symington's gubernatorial records.

The former Republican governor, who left office abruptly in 1997 when a federal jury convicted him of bank fraud, said he had no idea where they were. His staff were equally clueless.

But thanks to an author working on a biography of Arizona's 19th governor, the missing records were located last month at a bland storage facility 4 miles from the state Capitol. As archival records go, it's the equivalent of finding the Lost Dutchman's gold, state officials say.

In June, the archives received nine pallets stacked with 305 boxes of Symington records. The papers document his 6 1/2  years in office, a period marked by tax reductions, personal financial ruin and a criminal trial for bank fraud. There are photos from White House visits and records from his federal trial, policy papers and a picture of the governor in the Phoenix Suns' gorilla costume. Separately, he donated a trunk full of family memorabilia that dates from the late 19th century.

Archivists are now sifting through the trove, which they estimate will take as many as 500 man-hours to process. What they are finding will add to the historical picture of Arizona in the 1990s, and perhaps show new dimensions of one of Arizona's more controversial and colorful chiefs of state.

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