Democrats are desperately trying to embarrass Mitt Romney, the man they see as the inevitable challenger in next year’s election, by creating a flap about missing emails from his term as Governor of Massachusetts.
Romney and 11 top aides bought the hard drives from their state-issued computers shortly before he left office in 2007. Email messages were also wiped from the state’s server.
Now President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign is trying to make capital out of that perfectly legal move, the Republican front-runner claims.
Current Bay State governor, Democrat Deval Patrick, even released copies of the canceled $65 checks that were used to buy a total of 17 Romney-era hard drives.
“This action was nothing more than a weak attempt to disparage practices that you know were in complete compliance with the law,” Romney’s campaign manager Matt Rhoades wrote to the state house.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul insisted that his former staff had done nothing wrong in buying the hard drives. “In leaving office, the governor’s staff complied with the law and longtime executive branch practice,” Saul said. “Some employees exercised the option to purchase computer equipment when they left. They did so openly with personal checks.”
Saul told the Boston Globe that Patrick, a close ally of the president, was “doing Obama’s dirty work,” adding that it was one in a series of political maneuvers aimed at distracting from the president’s “horrible record on jobs.”
Democrats believe that emails sent among Romney’s top advisor during his four-year term in the Boston state house could have been a rich source of ammunition they could have used to portray Romney as a flip-flopper.
But their dirty tricks were thwarted when they discovered that the emails no longer exist.
“The governor’s office has found no e-mails from 2002-2006 in our possession,” Patrick’s legal counsel, Mark Reilly told the Globe.
“Before the current administration took office, the computers used during that time period were replaced and the server used during that time period was taken out of service, all files were removed from it, and it was also replaced.”
After the newspaper reported on Thursday that the computers had been sold, the Democratic National Committee filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demand for emails sent and received by nine members of Romney’s Massachusetts administration.
It also asked for any communications which included several phrases that could be embarrassing to Romney down the road or show that he was preparing for a presidential run while still in office.
They included, “delete emails,” “destroy records,” “government transparency,” “president,” “presidential,” “campaign,” “flip-flop,” “political expediency,” “move to the right,” “more conservative,” “change position,” “abortion,” “stem cell,” “guns,” “assault weapons ban,” “Right to Bear Arms Day,” “climate change,” “global warming,” “carbon dioxide emissions,” “CO2 emissions,” “Planned Parenthood,” “Massachusetts Right To Life,” “raise taxes and fees,” “ranked 47th in job creation,” and “Bush economic policies.”
“Americans deserve to know whether the Romney administration deliberately sought to delete public records in anticipation of requests regarding Gov. Romney’s record on a range of issues from abortion to health care and how he reached policy decision when in office,” a DNC statement said.
Romney’s campaign immediately fired back saying that Patrick should not have supplied the Globe with canceled checks as the paper had not filed an FOIA request for them.
The campaign called Patrick’s office “an opposition research arm of the Obama reelection campaign,” and filed its own FOIA request for all correspondence between the governor and three key Obama aides, David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Jim Messina as well as visitor’s and phone logs that might show contact with the trio.