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View Diary: Mitt Romney's aides erased email records before he left office (66 comments)

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  •  There is a very clear requirement for retaining (12+ / 0-)

    records in the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, Govs. Romney, Celluci and Patrick have all used the '97 ruling in Lambert v. Judicial Nominating Council to argue that the governor's office is exempt from the law, extrapolating a general principle of exemption from a ruling on one small aspect of the executive's duties.

    Mitt's got an easy slide on this one, thanks in part to Patrick's own insistence on exemption.

    Corporations are people, my friend Yeah, well, so's Soylent Green, so I don't find that very comforting. New video: Power

    by Crashing Vor on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 08:02:26 AM PST

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    •  Let him try to argue that in public! (9+ / 0-)

      One question is whether records can be made public upon external request, but actively and preemptively destroying them is another.  I have quick-read (as a typical lay person) the Lambert decision and I'd love to see Romney, or Patrick for that matter, try to expand that ruling to cover (1) destruction, and (2) destroying everything!  Pages 408-409 would make that a verrrry hard argument to sustain.

      But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

      by Rich in PA on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 08:13:56 AM PST

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    •  Ah well, if we really had a majority of "citizens" (5+ / 0-)

      worthy of that title we would see laws with teeth and enforcement of protection for our business records at every level.

      Having been there I can see exemptions for certain early discussions, some personnel and legal actions and such as everything being on record can crush frank discussion of things from technical issues to someone's promotion. Once it goes to decision time, action all records should be public and retained under penalty of laws with teeth and very long periods before an act becomes too old to prosecute. Even then, they should have a qualification that the law's limitations have not expired when some individual concerned re-enters public life.

      Unfortunately we have "citizens" wildly uninterested in their business, its records or the real qualifications of those we select to run the store. Otherwise such as Cain would not even be a blip.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 08:22:19 AM PST

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    •  Thank you for the legal cite. n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Crashing Vor, Matt Z, Larsstephens

      "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

      by Marjmar on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 08:29:10 AM PST

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    •  No Crashing Vor, Mitt broke the law (6+ / 0-)

      if they did not print out copies of any email destroyed:

      This was the law in 2006 when they did this:

      All electronic messages created or received by state employees using the Commonwealth's information technology resources are public record under the Commonwealth's Public Records Law, Mass. Gen. L. ch. 66, sec. 10, and most are therefore subject to public scrutiny. All such electronic messages are also records subject to the Commonwealth's Records Conservation Law, Mass. Gen. L. ch. 30, sec. 42, and must be disposed of, or retained according to the agency's disposition schedule and the Commonwealth's Records in Common disposition schedule. Most such messages are also potentially discoverable communications for purposes of litigation. Thus Agency heads and organization authorities must ensure that all electronic communications, are retained, disposed of, and disclosed, in compliance with the Public Records Law, the Records Conservation Law and the relevant discovery rules.  http://www.mass.gov/...
      At a minimum they had to retain copies for 2 years before erasing them.
      •  The 2003 law is very clear. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NYFM, Matt Z, Larsstephens, Marjmar

        However the arguments made--and, strangely, accepted--in Lambert in 97 leave a loophole that all governors since have claimed: that because the governor" possesses incidental powers which he can exercise in aid of his primary responsibility," exemptions are legal.

        Buncha hooey, you ask me. Perhaps this can be the case which clarifies the Lambert ruling.

        Corporations are people, my friend Yeah, well, so's Soylent Green, so I don't find that very comforting. New video: Power

        by Crashing Vor on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 08:57:41 AM PST

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    •  You beat me to it. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Crashing Vor, Larsstephens, Marjmar

      He also went before the Records Conservation Board and got permission to do what he did.  

      MA needs to change the law.  

      That would never fly here in NJ.  Even Jon Corzine had to give up his personal e-mail files when the Star Ledger wanted to see what he was talking about with his old flame, union boss Karla Katz, while contracts were being negotiated.

      If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? - Psalms 11:3

      by SpamNunn on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 09:16:31 AM PST

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      •  Wow (4+ / 0-)

        MA Records Conservation Board has the power to let an Executive destroy every single piece of email? That is simply jaw dropping.

        •  Apparently. I suspect that the Governor appoints (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dfe

          the members of the Board.   He's not the only Governor to take advantage of the law in the past few decades.  They obey the letter, but not the spirit of the law.  

          This speaks to a larger problem.  No one writes a letter these days.   I don't know what historians will use, in the future, to get a sense as to who we are, as individuals.   A hard drive is a poor archive if it gets sold, thrown away or overwritten.  

          When's the last time you wrote a letter.   I do it all of the time, because I like the way writing a letter makes me collect my thoughts, and set only the good ones down for posterity.  You can't hand draw a cartoon, or picture in the margin of an e-mail, or enclose a few flower petals, to send someone a bit of home, or a memory.  Very sad.

          If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? - Psalms 11:3

          by SpamNunn on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 12:16:25 PM PST

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