I believe this is called spoilation of evidence and there are laws about this sort of thing.
From the article:
“One of the nine hard drives was unreadable and the outside of it was dented and scratched, which suggested its metal housing had been removed, according to affidavits in the case.” Later in the article, MJS reporter Marley notes that the unreadable disk had a “stripped screw, denting and scratching ”
And note that some of the computers given to authorities by the GOP had software on them that can both “remove electronic data and hide files that had been deleted”.
Who could’ve intentionally destroyed that data? And can you really recover deleted files, anyway?
When you “delete” files from your computer’s hard drive, you are not completely deleting all of the files and a data recovery expert can piece together the information. No experts are needed, however, to simply install and operate a disc-wiping program like Active Killdisk. Even garden variety toadies like Tad Ottman, Adam Foltz, or consultant Joe Handrick could do that (those are the people who were using the computers in question for GOP redistricting work).
But not so fast. We shouldn’t focus only on Tad, Adam, and Joe in our quest for the data spoiler.
Let’s revisit January of 2012 when a 3-judge panel scolded and fined a few bosom companions of the WI GOP. Here’s a choice quote to jog your memory:
Quite frankly, the Legislature and the actions of its counsel give every appearance of flailing wildly in a desperate attempt to hide from both the court and the public the true nature of exactly what transpired in the redistricting process
[the Court] will not suffer the sort of disinformation, foot-dragging, and obfuscation now being engaged in by Wisconsin’s elected officials and/or their attorneys.”
The Court was giving what’s for to the WI GOP for claiming that they had client-attorney privilege between them and the staff they had working on their
gerrymandering redistricting. Remember the super-top-secrecy pledges that GOP legislators signed before they got a peek at the redistricting maps? Right. That was just for super-secret show.
Another quote from January 2012:
for the third time—this Court rules that neither Mr. Handrick nor the documents he holds are protected by privilege.
A bit over 1 year ago, the panel called Handricks a “lobbyist hired by the Legislature to assist in preparing the redistricting plan” and the panel made Eric M. McLeod, Joseph L. Olson,Aaron H. Kastens, and Michael Best & Friedrich LLP pay their opposition all costs associated with 2 frivolous lawsuits they’d used to buy time in their effort to conceal redistricting information [The “opposition” I mention was/is a long list of folks favorable to the Democratic party to include Tammy Baldwin, Gwendolynne Moore, and Ron Kind]
The subpoenas for the redistricting computers were served on Vos, Senate Chief Clerk Jeffrey Renk, Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller, and the Legislative Technology Service Bureau AS WELL AS Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and an unnamed representative of the Michael Best law firm.
Now we know who are the people most likely to have knowledge of where the bodies – and the data – are buried. We can stay tuned as a technician works on all of the disks in hopes that some data can still be recovered. Or we can start talking to all the guys I named. Why not? Talk is cheaper than court. And I’ve heard loose lips sometimes sink ships (of state).
As if the notion that somebody destroyed evidence in this matter was not maddening enough, if you’d like to bust a blood vessel, pause to consider that Wisconsin taxpayers have been footing the legal bills for the legislature’s Republicans as they endlessly drag feet and obfuscate and now, destroy evidence.
So far it’s cost us $1.9 million.