PETERBOROUGH, NH — Former Gov. Mitt Romney is under scrutiny for something his staff did shortly before he left office in Massachusetts. Eleven members of Romney’s senior staff were allowed to buy their government computer hard drives before leaving the State House. Romney aides also requested that emails be scrubbed from a server.
The first report that aides purchased hard drives and deleted emails broke Thursday. But it wasn’t until Saturday night here in New Hampshire that Romney spoke at length about what happened.
“What I can tell you is that under Massachusetts law, there is no provision asking either the governor’s office or the Legislature to provide any information for the archives,” Romney told reporters at the Peterborough Town Hall. “We voluntarily decided to do something which is not required by law.”
Actually, state law does require that governors turn over paper documents to the archives. Romney says his administration turned over 700 boxes of documents. State law also requires that electronic documents be printed and turned over before they’re deleted. According to two sources, aides to Romney told state officials they had printed their emails before deleting them. But questions remain about whether hard copies of all emails were turned over.
Romney says he did nothing different from any of his predecessors.
“I don’t believe there’s ever been an administration that says, ‘Let’s give you our computer files and emails,’ ” Romney said after the audience had filed out of a town hall-style meeting. “I don’t think any Republican administration, well, any prior governor has done something of that nature, and why is that? Well, I guess different reasons for different people. They may have personal information on there, medical records. They may have resumes for people who have applied for jobs.”
But before Romney, no governor’s aides had ever asked to buy back their hard drives.
In response to the revelations, the Romney campaign has filed a public records request for communications between the staff of Romney’s Democratic successor, Gov. Deval Patrick, and President Obama’s re-election campaign.