First Lie Exposed in Team Romney’s Public Records Destruction Scandal Cover-up

Yesterday’s Globe:

Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, said the governor’s aides 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.” […]

Mark Nielsen, who was Romney’s chief legal counsel, bought his hard drive on Dec. 12, 2006, just over two weeks before Patrick administration officials took over the governor’s office.

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 Globe. “But those purchases were in conformance with the law and with longstanding executive branch practice.” […]

When asked why he would want to purchase his hard drive, he said, “Employees were given that option and it was my understanding that it was a longstanding practice in the governor’s office.”

When asked about replacing the remaining computers and wiping the server clean, he said, “All I can tell you is we fully complied with the law and complied with longstanding executive branch practice. Nothing unusual was done.”

It’s clear that Team Romney has been well-trained to repeat the phrase “longtime/longstanding executive branch practice” and to go to great pains to say it over and over again, as though repeating it enough would make it the truth.

Too bad for Team Romney that it’s a blatant lie.

Today’s Globe:

Top aides to the three Massachusetts governors who preceded Mitt Romney – all of them Republicans – said yesterday they know of no instance when state employees purchased their computer hard drive as they left the administration, as 11 of Romney’s aides did in 2006 as he was laying the groundwork for his first presidential campaign.

The aides from the administrations of William F. Weld, Paul Cellucci, and Jane Swift all said they were not aware of such purchases being made previously.

“I don’t remember anybody buying their hard drives. I don’t remember anybody buying anything,” said Stephen P. Crosby, who worked for Romney’s two predecessors and handled the transition between Jane Swift’s outgoing administration and Romney’s incoming one, and who was also co-chairman of Governor Deval Patrick’s budget and finance transition team. “I can’t even remember anybody discussing it. It certainly wasn’t [standard operating procedure] in any way. That’s almost unthinkable. It seems inherently a bad idea. You almost think you’d want to have a record of everything going on for the public.”

Terry Dolan, who worked in six administrations and handled office transfers for many of them, said it was rare for departing employees to purchase state property – and unheard of for them to purchase computer equipment.

“That had not happened prior to the end of the Romney administration,” said Dolan, who worked as director of administration in the governor’s office from 1985 to 2008. But Dolan said Romney’s staff was “careful and methodical” and “so we acceded to that request” for the purchase of hard drives. “I can’t conceive that they would have done anything that was illegal,” she said. […]

But officials in prior administrations said they were not familiar with such purchases as a long-standing practice. Peter Forman, who was Cellucci’s deputy director of finance and chief of staff to Swift, said he had not heard of administration officials buying their hard drives.

“Nobody offered it to me any more than they offered any other furniture,” Forman said. “Why would you want to buy your computer? It’s an old computer, it’s a used computer. I certainly didn’t do it. And I’m not sure why anyone would, if it’s all centrally backed up.”

Why, indeed?  Further, Team Romney is in Circling-the-Wagons mode:

The Romney campaign yesterday declined requests to explain why the hard drives were purchased, leaving it unclear whether they were trying to keep information confidential. Nor did the campaign respond to questions about whether Romney had used a computer that contained one of the purchased hard drives. His former special assistant, Natalie Crate, purchased three hard drives but it is unclear whose she purchased. Crate did not return messages seeking comment.

The expression: “It’s not the act, it’s the cover-up.” comes to mind.  The longer that Team Romney refuses to cooperate or provide answers to very simple questions, the more Mitt invites increased scrutiny, as well as increased charges of hypocrisy for someone who all of a sudden claims to be a model of consistency.  Further, it continues to feed the, um, “longstanding” memes about Mitt that he will do anything to get elected and that he can’t be trusted.

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