Last week, a Boston Globe investigation uncovered that former Gov. Mitt Romney’s administration destroyed emails, purchased hard drives, and otherwise obliterated all digital records of his time as governor of Massachusetts. This happened as Romney was leaving the state to campaign for president (the first time), and observers immediately speculated that the systematic destruction was politically motivated to hide embarrassing data.
Romney and his campaign have so far denied this, with the candidate saying this weekend in New Hampshire that his staff took the highly unusual step of purchasing their work hard drives because they might contain “confidential and private” information. Meanwhile, he’s made calls for greater White House transparency a part of his campaign message.
But in a fairly stunning admission during an interview with the editorial board of the Nashua Telegraph in New Hampshire, Romney suggested that his administration deleted emails because they didn’t want “opposition research teams” to have access to them:
ROMNEY: Well, I think in government we should follow the law. And there has never been an administration that has provided to the opposition research team, or to the public, electronic communications. So ours would have been the first.
While Romney’s claim that no previous administration had kept emails may be true, that’s hardly a strong precedent given that emailing was not commonplace for very many years before Romney took office.
Meanwhile, Romney clearly broke precedent with the hard drive buybacks, as staffers for previous administration called the purchases “unheard of.” Terry Dolan, who worked in six previous administrations in the state, told the Globe, “That had not happened prior to the end of the Romney administration.” “I don’t remember anybody buying their hard drives. I don’t remember anybody buying anything,’’ said Stephen Crosby, who worked for Romney’s two predecessors.