The step during the final weeks of Romney’s administration was legal but still unusual for a governor, who is to leave, Massachusetts officials said.
A try to clean the records was made even before Romney started his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Now he is again competing for the party’s nomination, this time he takes part in the Presidential run.
Before the first polls in Iowa, Romney was said to be a frontrunner among Republican presidential candidates as rival Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, has gained ground.
After Romney has left the governorship of Massachusetts, the governor’s staff bought the hard drives of their state-issued computers to keep the information in a safe place. Even more, before Romney left his office, all the emails and other electronic communications have been wiped from state servers, Massachusetts officials said.
Those steps deleted much of the documentation of Romney’s four-year period as governor, which finished in January 2007. It is still unknown what information precisely was erased.
Republican and Democratic rivals of Romney said that the cleanup of emails – and a claim by Romney that paper records of his governorship can not be discussed by public – hinder efforts to assess his performance as a politician and elected official.
Romney’s representative said that deleting the emails, installing new computers in the governor’s office and buying up hard drives are legal.
Nevertheless, Theresa Dolan, former director of administration for the governor’s office, said to reporters that Romney’s efforts or hide records from his governorship were unprecedented.
Dolan added that during her being an aide to successive governors for 23 years “no one had ever inquired about, or expressed the desire” to purchase their computer hard drives before Romney’s tenure.
Cleaning up of records by Romney aides included spending $205,000 on new computers for the governor’s office, was written in official documents and state officials confirmed this information.
Romney’s staff broke an earlier three-year lease providing the same number of computers for about half the cost – $108,000. The broken lease still had 18 months to run.
The change in lease gave an additional $97,000.
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney’s presidential campaign, sent questions on the computer leasing and records cleanup to state officials.
By the way, last week, Saul said that Deval Patrick, the present Massachusetts governor and a Democrat, was encouraging reports about Romney to cast the former governor as secretive. Patrick’s office refused to comment on this allegation.
The removal of digital records by Romney’s staff has caused a wave of requests for state officials to show paper records from Romney’s governorship that kept in the state’s archives.
Massachusetts officials are now considering whether the public could have access to those documents.
State officials and Romney adviser said that before leaving office, Romney asked state archives officials for permission to destroy some paper records. It is unclear whether his office notified anyone from the state before destroying electronic records.
Officials have also said the details of Romney’s desire to remove certain paper records, including what specific documents he intended to destroy, could be shown to public only in response to a request under the state’s freedom of information law. [Via Reuters]