Former Romney Aides Deleted Electronic Footprint

Before Mitt Romney left the Massachusetts governor's office, 11 of his aides purchased more than a dozen computer hard drives and the administration wiped a server clean. The Boston Globe first reported the story last week. Aides to Romney's Republican predecessors describe the actions as unprecedented. Romney defended his administration at a campaign appearance on Saturday. And his campaign has filed a public records request for contacts between the administration of Romney's successor, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick and President Obama's reelection campaign.

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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is under scrutiny in his home state. Shortly before Romney left office and ran for president some five years ago, 11 members of his senior staff were allowed to buy their government hard drives. Romney aides also requested that emails be scrubbed from a state server. From member station WBUR in Boston, Fred Thys has our story.

FRED THYS, BYLINE: The Boston Globe first broke the story of the purchased hard drives and deleted emails last Thursday. But it wasn't until Saturday night in New Hampshire that Mitt Romney spoke at length about what happened.

MITT ROMNEY: 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. We voluntarily decided to do something which is not required by law.

THYS: State law actually 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.

ROMNEY: I don't believe there's ever been an administration that says: Let's give you our computer files and emails. 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 could have resumes from people who've applied for jobs.

THYS: But before Romney, no governor's aides 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, Deval Patrick, and President Obama's re-election campaign.

For NPR News, I'm Fred Thys in Boston.

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