US

Romney staff cleared computer records before leaving Mass. office

When Mitt Romney left his Massachusetts governorship to run for president, his staff did everything in their power to prepare him for the race.

According to the Globe, one of their tasks was wiping servers clean of Romney’s emails with government-issued hard drives. They then replaced office computers before new governor Deval Patrick’s staff showed up. This resulted in the new administration having no email records to show for the previous one.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul says the campaign did nothing wrong. “In leaving office, the governor’s staff complied with the law and longtime executive branch practice,’’ she said. “Some employees exercised the option to purchase computer equipment when they left. They did so openly with personal checks.’’

Saul then went on to accuse Gov. Patrick’s office of making a mountain out of a molehill for political reasons. Patrick, a Democrat, has close ties to President Obama. The president is expected to play a substantial role in Patrick’s re-election campaign. According to Saul, Patrick is “doing the Obama campaign’s dirty work,” adding that  releasing this information was a “political attack to distract from Obama’s horrible record on jobs.”

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin is not at ease with the situation. “They have an obligation as a public official to preserve their records,’’ Galvin said. “Electronic records are held to the same standard as paper records. There’s no question. They’re not in some lesser standard.’’

Mark Neilsen, former chief legal counsel to Romney, purchased his hard drive two weeks before Patrick took over the governorship. According to him, the campaign staff did nothing unusual.

“The longstanding practice in the governor’s office was to give employees the option to buy old equipment when they were leaving office, and certain employees, including me, did that,’’ Nielsen told the Boston Globe. “But those purchases were in conformance with the law and with longstanding executive branch practice.’’

He added that he was “confident that we complied with the letter and the spirit of the law.’”

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