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November 17, 2011 2:10 PM The wrong candidate to push ‘transparency’

By Steve Benen

Nearly six years ago, Mitt Romney decided he had a pretty credible shot at the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Once that judgment had been made, the governor put together a to-do list.

First, Romney had to announce he wouldn’t seek a second term, in large part because he’d lose and it would interfere with his ambitions. Second, he had to trash his entire worldview and adopt a new one that might be more palatable to GOP primary voters.

And finally, it was time to deal with all of those emails.

Just before Mitt Romney left the Massachusetts governor’s office and first ran for president, 11 of his top aides purchased their state-issued computer hard drives, and the Romney administration’s e-mails were all wiped from a server, according to interviews and records obtained by the Globe.

Romney administration officials had the remaining computers in the governor’s office replaced just before Governor Deval Patrick’s staff showed up to take power in January 2007, according to Mark Reilly, Patrick’s chief legal counsel.

As a result, Patrick’s office, which has been bombarded with inquiries for records from the Romney era, has no electronic record of any Romney administration e-mails, Reilly said.

“The governor’s office has found no e-mails from 2002-2006 in our possession,” Reilly said in a statement. “Before the current administration took office, the computers used during that time period were replaced and the server used during that time period was taken out of service, all files were removed from it, and it was also replaced.”

Romney’s campaign said the former one-term governor did nothing wrong and has nothing to hide, and all of those emails were erased because, well, just because.

The consensus seems to be that Romney and his team did not violate the letter of the state’s Public Records Law, but it does seem strange that 11 Romney administration officials felt the need to buy 17 hard drives from the governor’s office for no apparent reason.

Secretary of State William Galvin told the Globe that sales of state property to private individuals is “odd.”

Maybe Romney ought to revisit those complaints about “transparency” in the Obama administration.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • T2 on November 17, 2011 2:12 PM:

    this ain't nothing. Mr. Benen, take a little investigative trip into Rick Perry's emails as TX Gov. You'll find it quite interesting.

  • T2 on November 17, 2011 2:18 PM:

    oh well.....google: rick perry, erase emails

  • c u n d gulag on November 17, 2011 2:26 PM:

    Looks like Mitt's e-mail record is a blank as his soul.

    Is there not ONE Conservative who's willing to undergo any scrutiny?

    I know this all stems from Nixon - but Nixon was a piker compared to any of the more recent examples of Republicans.

  • Josef K on November 17, 2011 2:31 PM:

    The consensus seems to be that Romney and his team did not violate the letter of the state’s Public Records Law, but it does seem strange that 11 Romney administration officials felt the need to buy 17 hard drives from the governor’s office for no apparent reason.

    The strangeness of the sale aside, exactly how does this not violate the Public Records Law of the Commonwealth? I'll readily admit I'm not familiar with the statute in question, but seriously, these guys all but admitted they've destroyed all electronic records of Romney's sole term as Governor. Exactly what 'letter of the law' were they following?

    And as I asked at 11:40am today, what were they thinking and/or hiding by doing this?

  • square1 on November 17, 2011 2:40 PM:

    In my experience, Democrats pay lip service to transparency but ultimately couldn't care less.

    Remember when Democrats called for a special prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's preposterous claim that it had "lost" thousands of emails over many months? Or when Democrats called for an investigation into the use of RNC email servers to host official emails sent for official business (that were then, too, "lost")?

    You don't remember it because the Democrats yawned, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

    The joke is that it is virtually impossible to permanently "lose" data unless you (a) physically destroy the drive and (b)have never backed it up. Anyone with the slightest grasp of IT practices knows this.

    In this case, has Deval Patrick asked the AG to investigate why the prior administration would be wiping drives clean? Sounds like conspiracy to violate the Public Records Law. If I was governor and I walked after being sworn in and discovered that all the data on my office's computers was gone, I would instruct my staff not to use the computers until a forensic analysis discovered whether the data could be recovered.

  • RT on November 17, 2011 2:41 PM:

    WHAT IS MITT ROMNEY HIDING?

    Hey, somebody's got to start the hyperbole.

    "I know this all stems from Nixon - but Nixon was a piker compared to any of the more recent examples of Republicans."

    They're thinking Nixon got caught because he wasn't thorough enough. Kinda scary to think they've been distilling the essence of Nixon for almost 40 years now.

  • low-tech cyclist on November 17, 2011 3:56 PM:

    Secretary of State William Galvin told the Globe that sales of state property to private individuals is “odd.”

    There undoubtedly are procedures to be followed before a government can sell something it owns to...well, anybody, really.

    Sounds like it's at least worth somebody's time to ascertain what those procedures might have been, and verify that they were followed.

  • Peter Gunn on November 17, 2011 3:58 PM:

    State employees directly buying state owned property that they are using, such as hard drives, is illegal in the two states where I have worked (Louisiana and North Carolina). It is hard to believe it is legal in Mass.

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