Romney (Paul Sancya/AP)Former staff for past governors of Massachusetts told the Boston Globe this week that having staff purchase their computer hard drives at the conclusion of their terms was not a longtime practice, contrary to claims made by Mitt Romney's campaign.
The Globe reported Thursday that the office of current Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is unable to fulfill requests for records from his predecessor's 2003-2007 administration. When Romney left office in 2006, 11 gubernatorial aides personally purchased 17 hard drives, removing them from state sources, and took down the server that housed their emails just before Patrick took over.
The moves suggest Romney was attempting to conceal or withhold information. But Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the newspaper Thursday that Romney's staffers did nothing wrong or unusual; they simply "complied with the law and longtime executive branch practice,'' she said.
But former state staffers say otherwise.
Terry Dolan, who "worked in six administrations and handled office transfers for many of them," according to the Globe, told the newspaper it was "unheard of" and unprecedented for staff to buy their computers, though it was common to erase servers between administrations.
The Romney campaign has not publicly commented on why the hard drives were purchased, according to the Globe.
The revelations have not stopped the Romney campaign attacking President Obama on transparency. "One Of The Most Disappointing Attributes Of The Obama Administration Has Been Its Proclivity For Secrecy . . . . Obama Should Reread His Pronouncements About Transparent Government," the campaign wrote in one press release Thursday, which laid into the Obama administration's state-secrets record.
In response to The Globe's coverage, the Democratic National Committee on Thursday filed a formal public records request with the State of Massachusetts for correspondence during Romney's administration. Romney's campaign has framed that move, like others preceding it, as a sign that the Democratic establishment perceives Romney as its biggest threat in 2012.
The Romney campaign on Thursday sent a letter to Patrick questioning whether his co-operation with the Globe story constituted a violation of state law by mixing electoral politics with legislative work. "It is evident that your office has become an opposition research arm of the Obama reelection campaign," campaign manager Matt Rhoades wrote.
Other recent GOP presidential hopefuls have faced criticism over their statehouse record on transparency issues.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took a good deal of flak for his directive to staffers demanding that they destroy hard drives and servers as he prepared to leave office in January 2007 to launch his presidential campaign. The issue resurfaced in April of this year, prior to Huckabee's decision to opt out of the 2012 race.
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