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A few months before launching his 2008 presidential campaign, then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) spent $97,000 in Massachusetts taxpayer funds to replace his administration's computers. In what Reuters calls "an unprecedented effort to keep his records secret," Romney not only leased new computers before the older, cheaper lease was up, he had top aides buy 17 state-issued hard drives to keep for themselves, purging them of his team's emails. Officials say the move, while unprecedented, was almost certainly legal. But does it mean that squeaky-clean Romney has some skeletons in his closet?
Romney is clearly hiding something: The former governor has already admitted that he was trying to prevent opposition researchers from digging through his official correspondence, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. But handing "taxpayers a bill for nearly six figures" to advance his personal ambitions is a new, damning development. "I can only imagine how absolutely devastating those emails must have been."
"The hard-drive plot thickens"
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As always, Mitt was probably just being too cautious: Romney's email purge is "shady, but not illegal," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. And the idea that he was trying to cover up illegal activity "is almost inconceivable to me." At worst, he wanted to keep a "treasure trove of 'damn, mandates are awesome' emails" from presidential rivals. But that's Romney: "Squeaky clean and suspicious at the same time. He won't steal and he won't cheat" — and he doesn't want you to know what he really thinks.
But these "unknown unknowns" should scare the GOP: We think Romney has been vetted, and "looking at his persona, it is hard to imagine" any unearthed skeletons, says William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. But those records Romney spent good money to destroy are a warning bell. Newt Gingrich has had his dirty laundry aired for years. He could likely weather one more October surprise. But for the "seemingly perfect" Romney, the revelation late in the general election of a devastating scandal from these hard drives could "hand Barack Obama the election on a silver platter."
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