Want To See Romneycare E-Mails? Good Luck…

Governor Mitt Romney of MA

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A nice look at a time-honored headache: the governor’s e-mails…

For politicians, there is one time-tested method for thwarting public records requests: stall and stall and, when in doubt, stall.

This January, for instance, Alaskan officials finally responded to September 2008 requests for former Republican Gov. Sarah Palin’s emails, promising to release the files by the end of May 2011. By then the wait will have lasted longer than the time Palin spent in office.

If dragging out the release date proves ineffective, officials can also stall by requiring a pretty penny from the requester. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, before he announced his decision to not run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, tried to chargeMother Jones upwards of $60,000 for the privilege of viewing his emails and travel logs.

But Republican presidential nominee frontrunner Mitt Romney has a diametrically different, more ingenious approach to public records: the document dump.

In January 2007, as the onetime Massachusetts governor was leaving office — and preparing for his first presidential run — he and his staff were required by law to transfer much of their work product tostate archives. Romney’s administration responded by handing over materials measuring approximately 700 cubic feet. The boxes covered everything in his four-year term — from legislative documents to legal counseling to travel records.

If one wants to search out all of Romney’s emails on, say, health care reform, good luck finding anything. Not every document was necessarily put in order, nor even labeled.

The clincher:

“There’s no discrete series of emails,” he adds. “We didn’t take any electronic or digital files.” Romney’s emails were printed out and stuffed into cartons.

Finding and collating emails on any given subject means digging through hundreds of boxes. In fact, if you request the full file on the creation Romney’s state Health Connector, expect at least a very long delay. You might get those materials by 2016.

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