Shortly before departing the governor’s office, Mitt Romney oversaw the purchase of 17 state-issued hard drives, and wiped clean computers and servers that contained electronic copies of emails in the governor’s office. Why? For one reason: to purge his administration’s email records.
Romney later admitted the move was intended to hide official correspondence from the public and keep potentially-embarrassing information under wraps in advance of his presidential campaign. (Yes, this is the same Romney who often speaks about “transparency” in government.)
The email purge was largely successful, but not completely – some of the emails from one member of Romney’s cabinet survived, and the Wall Street Journal used a public-records request to obtain the correspondence between the cabinet secretary and other top Romney officials.
The most interesting revelations relate to Romney’s efforts to pass his health care reform law.
[A] small cache of emails survived, including some that have never publicly surfaced surrounding Mr. Romney’s efforts to pass his now-controversial health-care law. The emails show the Republican governor was closely engaged in negotiating details of the bill, working with top Democratic state leaders and drafting early copies of opinion articles backing it.
Mr. Romney and his aides, meanwhile, strongly defended the so-called individual mandate, a requirement that everyone in Massachusetts have or buy health insurance. And they privately discussed ideas that might be anathema to today’s GOP – including publicly shaming companies that didn’t provide enough health insurance to employees.
At the time, it turns out, Democrats weren’t on board with an individual mandate, but Romney and his aides championed the provision. His health secretary wrote in early 2006, “We must have an individual mandate for any plan to work.”
In fact, Romney personally drafted an op-ed making the case for a mandate. “Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian,” the governor wrote, adding, “An uninsured libertarian might counter that he could refuse the free care, but under law, that is impossible – and inhumane.”
This from a GOP presidential candidate who now pretends to believe the mandate is an authoritarian, unconstitutional nightmare.
This was pretty amusing, too.
The idea to publicly name companies apparently came as aides were trying to find other ways to motivate employers to give insurance.
“I know the dems hate this, but we can also [throw] back in the Gov’s original notion of having some sort of ‘public disclosure’ of employers who promote a culture of uninsurance,” wrote Cindy Gillespie, a top Romney adviser, to other officials Feb. 13, 2006.
Ms. Gillespie suggested asking companies to provide quarterly reports on their number of uninsured workers and publishing the list as an ad in the Boston Globe. “The Globe would love it and it would keep the issue of the uninsured front and center,” she wrote.
As Jonathan Cohn joked this morning, “Wow. A Republican administration urging corporate disclosure and public brow-beating by the liberal media. No way this guy is going to get the support of a national business lobby sharply opposed to universal health coverage and the individual insurance mandate, right? Oh, wait…”