Is The Fate Of Mitt Romney's Presidential Campaign In The Hands Of A Reuters FOIA Request?
It appears the GOP candidates are dropping like flies: first that one crazy guy, then Cain, and now... Mitt Romney? According to a Boston Globe article, paraphrased by Reuters, the GOP frontrunner (or is that second after Gingrich now: nobody really knows any more), spent $100,000, not of his own money but state funds, to "replace computers in his office at the end of his term as governor of Massachusetts in 2007 as part of an unprecedented effort to keep his records secret. When Romney left the governorship of Massachusetts, 11 of his aides bought the hard drives of their state-issued computers to keep for themselves. Also before he left office, the governor's staff had emails and other electronic communications by Romney's administration wiped from state servers, state officials say. Those actions erased much of the internal documentation of Romney's four-year tenure as governor, which ended in January 2007. Precisely what information was erased is unclear." Odd: almost as if he had something to hide... Yet something tells us the other side of those emailed correspondences will still be there: alive and kicking, somewhere on the archived servers of Bain Capital, and a few prominent health insurance companies (and of course Goldman Sachs, because Goldman Sachs is everywhere). Naturally, one would need a subpoena to get those. And for that one would need a reason to assume something is illegal. Luckily, wiping your hard disks while a servant of the people is perfectly normal in a banana republic. Now just who does Ron Paul have to murder in broad daylight while having sex with Snooki before the general media finally decides he is worthy of a shot at this whole farce?
Reuters with more:
Republican and Democratic opponents of Romney say the scrubbing of emails - and a claim by Romney that paper records of his governorship are not subject to public disclosure - hinder efforts to assess his performance as a politician and elected official.
As Massachusetts governor, Romney worked with a Democrat-led state house to close a budget shortfall and signed a healthcare overhaul that required nearly all state residents to buy insurance or face penalties.
Massachusetts' healthcare law became a model for Obama's nationwide healthcare program, enacted into law in 2010. As a presidential candidate, however, Romney has criticized Obama's plan as an overreach by the federal government.
Massachusetts officials say they have no basis to believe that Romney's staff violated any state laws or policies in removing his administration's records.
As for the "cleansing" apparently Romney was smart enough to do what not even 27-year old Goldman Sachs wunderkind and the man who singlehandedly (because the SEC has yet to name a second perpetrator at Goldman) concocted the MBS mortgage fraud scheme, Fab Tourre, thought of doing when he left his hard disk "just lying around."
Romney's spokesmen emphasize that he followed the law and precedent in deleting the emails, installing new computers in the governor's office and buying up hard drives.
However, Theresa Dolan, former director of administration for the governor's office, told Reuters that Romney's efforts to control or wipe out records from his governorship were unprecedented.
Dolan said that in her 23 years as an aide to successive governors "no one had ever inquired about, or expressed the desire" to purchase their computer hard drives before Romney's tenure.
The cleanup of records by Romney's staff before his term ended included spending $205,000 for a three-year lease on new computers for the governor's office, according to official documents and state officials.
In signing the lease, Romney aides broke an earlier three-year lease that provided the same number of computers for about half the cost - $108,000. Lease documents obtained by Reuters under the state's freedom of information law indicate that the broken lease still had 18 months to run.
As a result of the change in leases, the cost to the state for computers in the governor's office was an additional $97,000.
The 'shredding' was not just electronic:
State officials and a longtime Romney adviser have acknowledged that before leaving office, Romney asked state archives officials for permission to destroy certain paper records. It is unclear whether his office notified anyone from the state before destroying electronic records.
In other words, the US taxpayers paid to make sure nobody could ever build a civil or, heaven forbid, criminal case against Romney.
We can't wait for the next GOP debate, or whatever that ex-"999" circus is called nowadays, something tells us the topic of tampering with evidence, always a sensitive one for politicians as they all have done it at some point, will be rather prominent.
As for Romney, his fate may soon be sealed, or unsealed as the case may be, by a Reuters FOIA:
Officials have said the details of Romney's request to remove paper records, such as what specific documents he wanted to destroy, could be made public only in response to a request under the state's freedom of information law. Reuters has filed such a request.
One wonders how fast the turnaround on such a request is, and just how extensive the black out redactions will be.
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