On their way out of the governor’s office and onto the presidential campaign trail, aides to Mitt Romney almost completely obliterated their electronic records, deleting emails, purchasing hard drives, and replacing computers, a investigation by the Boston Globe found. “The governor’s office has found no e-mails from 2002-2006 in our possession,’’ an aide to the current governor, Deval Patrick, told the Globe. Meanwhile, 11 Romney aides — many of whom went on to work on Romney’s 2008 campaign — purchased their state-issued computer hard drives as they left state employment.
Like other states and the federal government, Massachusetts has a law that requires such files be preserved for the state archives. Moreover, Secretary of State William Galvin, who oversees the state Public Records Law, “said it appeared odd” that aides could purchases state property. “I don’t sell things to people who work for me,’’ Galvin said.
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Asked why he purchased his hard drive for $65 just two weeks before leaving office, Romney’s chief legal counsel, Mark Nielsen, couldn’t explain, saying only that he followed the law:
“I’m confident that we complied with the letter and the spirit of the law,’’ he added. When asked why he would want to purchase his hard drive, he said, “Employees were given that option and it was my understanding that it was a longstanding practice in the governor’s office.’’
When asked about replacing the remaining computers and wiping the server clean, he said, “All I can tell you is we fully complied with the law and complied with longstanding executive branch practice. Nothing unusual was done.’’
Romney aides point out that the state archives does have 700 to 800 boxes of paper records. But as the Huffington Post’s Jason Cherkis and others have reported, the paper records are a mess. “Not every document was necessarily put in order, nor even labeled,” making it almost impossible to find the comprehensive documents on almost anything. Said one reporter who has attempted to search the boxes: “My experience is, they were pretty careful about what they left behind. You’re welcome to it. It’s a ton of shit.”