ACEDS has an interesting article today on a political fight over deleted emails in a Wisconsin redistricting case. Democrats allege that Republican staffers initially deleted a handful of emails; their investigation now points to much more significant deletion – on the order of hundreds of thousands of documents.

The users accused of deletion filed affidavits indicating that their computers were used for far more than redistricting and that the deleted files were not related to that matter. It appears that the computers in question had both mirrored internal drives and an external backup.  The external backup was, at some point, corrupted.

Adam Foltz, one of the users, filed an affidavit indicating:

My computer was not used solely for redistricting. While I maintained redistricting files on my computer, I continued to use my computer for my other legislative activities. Accordingly, there would naturally be many deletions of information on my computer, but those deletions are not deletions of redistricting files. I created much information on my computer after the redistricting trial as it related to my legislative responsibilities and much of that information was supplemented and deleted during the ordinary course of my activities.

Tad Ottman, one of the other users accused of deletion, indicated that the presence of CCleaner on his machine was unrelated to redistricting:

I installed commonly available software entitled “CCleaner” on my computer. The purpose of such software is to allow the computer to run faster and clean Internet Explorer temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies and index.dat files. It does the same for Google and other system related files as opposed to individual files. The CCleaner software was not used on my computer to clean files that I had saved, including redistricting files. Accordingly, there is nothing inconsistent with my having CCleaner software on my computer and maintaining all my redistricting files. It is not the purpose of CCleaner software to destroy files that had been preserved on the computer and I never used it to destroy such files. Instead, it is to clean out unwanted Internet caches and temporary Internet files and system files that make the computer run more slowly.

ACEDS has several of the filings.

When working on tasks that are likely to generate litigation, it can often be beneficial to use a separate system for those activities.  While not always practicable, such an arrangement can greatly simplify the collection process and reduces the risk of disclosing unrelated activities.