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Romney axes grass cutters

December 4, 2007 |  3:51 pm

For Mitt Romney, the prospect of a few extra weeds turned out to be a small price to pay for striking a blow against illegal immigration -- as well as inoculating himself against future debate attacks.

Late this afternoon, his presidential campaign disclosed that upon learning that a company handling the landscaping at his home in Massachusetts "was employing individuals who are not permitted to work in the United States," Romney "took immediate action to terminate the lawn service company in question for failing to comply with the law."

In a statement, Romney elaborated:

"After this same issue arose last year, I gave the company a second chance with very specific conditions. They were instructed to make sure people working for the company were of legal status. We personally met with the company in order to inform them about the importance of this matter.  The owner of the company guaranteed us, in very certain terms, that the company would be in total compliance with the law going forward.

“The company's failure to comply with the law is disappointing and inexcusable, and I believe it is important I take this action."

The company's failure also may reflect certain realities of the job market and the economic temptation to hire illegal immigrants, but we'll let others thrash that out.

The lawn service issue bedeviling Romney, you'll recall, was spotlighted ...


by Rudy Giuliani during last week's debate among the Republican presidential candidates. As the two traded barbs over who had the worse record on illegal immigration, Giuliani charged that Romney had facilitated a "sanctuary mansion."

That sparked the following exchange:

GIULIANI: You did -- you did -- you did have illegal immigrants working at your mansion, didn't you?

ROMNEY: No, I did not. So let's just talk about that.

Are you suggesting ... because I -- I think it's really kind of offensive, actually, to suggest -- to say look, you know what, if -- if you're a homeowner and you hire a company to come provide a service at your home -- paint the home, put on the roof -- if you hear someone that's working out there -- not that you've employed, but that the company has -- if you hear someone with a funny accent, you as a homeowner are supposed to go out there and say, I want to see your papers? Is that what you're suggesting?"

Apparently, Romney decided some checking was in order.

-- Don Frederick