Shortly before Mitt Romney departed the governor’s office, 11 of his top aides purchased 17 state-issued hard drives, purging the Romney administration’s email records in advance of his presidential campaign. In retrospect, the move seems rather odd, especially for a Republican candidate who likes to talk about transparency.

Yesterday we learned that this has no precedent among modern Massachusetts governors, including Romney’s recent Republican predecessors.

Soon after, a reporter pressed the Republican presidential frontrunner during a campaign stop in New Hampshire to explain the missing hard drives.

As you can see from the clip, Romney doesn’t seem especially eager to talk about this, and ignored repeated questions. Later, when more reporters started asking about this, Romney “was quickly swept into his waiting SUV.”

Romney’s only defense? His aides “all followed the law exactly as it’s written.”

That may very well be true. I have no expertise at all with Massachusetts’ public records law, but the Boston Globe report the other day suggested Romney’s team may not have violated the letter of the law.

But that’s not what Romney was asked yesterday. It’s actually pretty straightforward, and even Romney should be able to understand the question: why did his team purchase 17 state-issued hard drives on their way out the door, blocking public access to their official emails?

Romney is stressing the fact that this was probably legal. But the question isn’t about the law; it’s about the rationale. Why did his team buy the hard drives — not the computers, not the monitors, not the keyboards, just the hard drives — in the first place? What was on these drives that Romney didn’t want the public to see?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.