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December 2, 2006

The latest story on Mitt Romney has the appearance of an early opposition attack on his presidential hopes, and in this case a rather silly attack. Echoing the travails of Kimba Wood, Bill Clinton's first nominee for Attorney General, the Boston Globe reported yesterday that Romney employed illigal immigrants as landscaping workers:

As Governor Mitt Romney explores a presidential bid, he has grown outspoken in his criticism of illegal immigration. But, for a decade, the governor has used a landscaping company that relies heavily on workers like these, illegal Guatemalan immigrants, to maintain the grounds surrounding his pink Colonial house on Marsh Street in Belmont.

The Globe recently interviewed four current and former employees of Community Lawn Service with a Heart, the tiny Chelsea-based company that provides upkeep of Romney's property. All but one said they were in the United States illegally.

Wood had to withdraw her nomination when reporters discovered that she had not paid her nanny's Social Security taxes as required by law. Now the Globe somehow stumbles across information that Romney, who opposes illegal immigration, dodged the law in favor of his lawn. However, the two aren't the same, and Romney's response points that out:

Responding to a report in Friday's Boston Globe, the governor's communications director said Friday that Romney was unaware that several of the landscapers who kept up his suburban Belmont property were in this country illegally.

"Gov. Romney has no information or knowledge to corroborate the Globe's allegations," Eric Fehrnstrom said Friday. "He hired a legitimate lawn service company and he knows the owner as a decent, hardworking person who is a legal resident."

Romney hired a firm to maintain his landscaping, by all accounts a legitimate firm that also does business with public agencies in Massachussetts. Romney had no input on their hiring decisionsm, and he had no obligation -- and no right -- to demand "papers" from the employees of the firm when they arrived on his property. He naturally assumed that Community Lawn Service with a Heart had followed the law when it hired its workers, given their references.

Let's think about the reverse for a moment. Had Romney demanded that the workers present proof of eligibility to work before allowing them on his property, how would the Boston Globe have reported that? Would they have hailed him as a paragon of steadfastness against illegal immigration? Or would they have reported him as a racist who just assumes all Hispanics must be in the country illegally? Instead of interviewing the three or four illegals in the firm, the Globe would have found three or four proper citizens just trying to make a living that felt Romney's supposed racism.

Romney has no reason to apologize. He relied on his contractor to follow the law. If people want to hold Romney accountable for that, then I suggest that the Boston Herald start interviewing the Boston Globe's janitorial staff and landscaping services to determine whether their contractors have the same issue. After that, some enterprising blogger could follow the executives of the Boston Globe (owned by the New York Times) to see at which restaurants they eat and at which golf courses they play to determine whether they have carefully scrutinized all of these places to ensure no illegals work there.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 2, 2006 9:29 AM

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