Politics

Mass. governor’s office bombarded with FOIA requests by Romney campaign, DNC

Will Rahn Senior Editor

Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick’s office will have to wade through thousands of emails in coming weeks to respond to dueling Freedom of Information Act requests from the Romney campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Patrick, a close ally of President Barack Obama, has received a deluge of press requests concerning records from Mitt Romney’s four-year tenure as the state’s governor.

Patrick has been cooperating with the press, prompting Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul to tell the Boston Globe that the current governor is “doing the Obama campaign’s dirty work.’’

The Romney campaign’s FOIA request came after the Globe reported Thursday that 11 aides to the then-governor had purchased their state-issued hard drives shortly before he left office.

Additionally, all of the Romney administration’s emails were wiped from a server, which Saul told the paper was a lawful and “longtime executive branch practice.”

“As you know, state law strictly prohibits you and your staff from using public resources for political campaign purposes,” Romney campaign manager Matt Rhodes wrote in a letter accompanying the FOIA request. “Under state law, a public employee may not provide services to a candidate or campaign during his or her work hours.”

Rhodes called Patrick’s office “an opposition research arm of the Obama reelection campaign” and cited the Globe story as proof.

The Globe story quoted Mark Reilly, Patrick’s chief legal counsel, as saying Romney’s staff replaced all the remaining computers in the governor’s office shortly before Patrick took over.

According to the Romney campaign’s request, Reilly also provided the paper “with copies of canceled checks from 2006 documenting the lawful purchase of computer equipment by departing members of the Romney administration.”

“This action was nothing more than a weak attempt to disparage practices that you know were in complete compliance with the law,” Rhodes wrote. “Given the amount of time your staff is apparently spending to assist the Obama campaign, I request that you provide us with copies of all email correspondence, phone logs, and visitor logs showing contacts that David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Jim Messina have had with you and members of the Executive Office from 2007 to the present.”

When asked for comment, Reilly told The Daily Caller that Patrick’s office had every intention of fulfilling the Romney campaign’s request.

“We have fulfilled over 250 public records requests in our five years in office and we will be happy to fulfill this one,” he said.

In response to Rhodes’ request, the DNC filed their own FOIA request on Thursday evening.

“Americans deserve to know whether the Romney administration deliberately sought to delete public records in anticipation of requests regarding Governor Romney’s record on a range of issues — from abortion to healthcare –and how he reached policy decisions when in office,” their request read.

Specifically, the DNC is interested in all electronic correspondence from top Romney aides Peter Flaherty, Beth Meyers and the nine other staffers who the Globe said deleted emails.

The DNC is also interested in any emails to Romney or administration officials containing hot-button keywords like “abortion,” “global warming,” “guns” and “ranked 47th in job creation.”

The DNC’s full request can be read here.

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