Archivists at the University of Utah are aiming to release records from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics “well before the 2012 election,” ABC News reports.
That release could bring newfound scrutiny to one of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s biggest successes — turning around the scandal-scarred 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Journalists have been attempting to gain access to those papers for years.
However, many key documents will likely not be released and some have probably been destroyed. Gregory Thompson, curator at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library, told the Post in the spring that the Olympic records “were pretty well scrubbed before they got here.” Inventories available at the time suggested that there was no complete set of meeting minutes, e-mail records, contracts or financial data.
Kelly Flint, who served as general council to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) told ABC News that “legally privileged or confidential information” was destroyed, and it was unlikely that e-mails, appointment calendars and other correspondence was saved.
Romney’s campaign says the candidate had no role in the archive staying unreleased for so long.
“Mitt Romney resigned from SLOC in early 2002 to run for governor of Massachusetts and was not involved in the decision making regarding the final disposition of records,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.
But journalists have complained since 2001 about difficulty obtaining Olympic records — even before Romney left Utah.
And Romney had promised a higher standard. He told the National Press Club in 2002 that “all the documents inside our organization are available to the public,” including correspondence. “It is fair to say that SLOC was the most transparent organizing committee in Olympic history – perhaps among the most publicly accessible organizations in America,” he wrote in “Turnaround,” his book about running the Olympics. “For all intents and purposes we were naked.”
Romney’s refusal to release back tax returns and his aides’ decision to destroy e-mails from his gubernatorial tenure have raised questions about the candidate’s transparency.
Romney’s Olympic leadership has not gotten much scrutiny from rivals, in either the primary or general election. While there’s some disagreement over how much credit Romney deserves, the games themselves are seen almost universally as a triumph. Our Factchecker gave Romney “a rare Geppetto checkmark” for his account of saving the troubled Games.
But Democrats have started needling Romney for not asking for a moment of silence in honor of the Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics. A 2002 Boston Globe story found that Romney overstated the Games’ financial troubled when he took over. Deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter recently told Politico that Romney’s Olympic record was “less than wholesome, shall we say, in terms of the decisions that were made there, the contracts that were signed and the basic operation.”
After months of back-and-forth on Bain Capital and Massachusetts, the Olympics will likely get more scrutiny in the days ahead.
Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.