Details emerge from Palin email release
Alaska--The state of Alaska on Friday released more than 13,000 e-mails that shed light on Sarah Palin's tenure as governor — before she became a vice-presidential candidate, a reality-TV star, and an undeclared heavyweight in the 2012 race for the White House.Many of the e-mails dealt with the mundane matters of running an office and a state: speech preparations, gubernatorial appointments, even office softball games. Others, however, provide a look at Palin’s political persona, before she was catapulted into the national spotlight.
In one e-mail, written weeks before Palin was chosen as a running mate by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Palin praises a speech by the man who would be McCain’s opponent in the 2008 presidential race.
(Full searchable text of Sarah Palin's e-mails)
Then-Sen. Barack Obama “gave a great speech this morn in Michigan—mentioned Alaska,” Palin wrote to aides. In a speech in Lansing, Mich., Obama had spoken of the need to complete the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline, and open more oil and gas drilling in Alaska. “So.... we need to take advantage of this [and] write a statement saying he’s right on.”
A year before, in February 2007, a staffer recommended to Palin that she meet Pete Rouse, “who's now chief of staff for some guy named Barack Obama,” when she was in Washington, D.C. on an upcoming trip.
“I’m game to meet him,” Palin wrote back.
Other e-mails make clear that Palin relied on her husband, Todd Palin, for advice on policy issues. In a March 2008 e-mail, for instance, the governor makes clear that he also weighed in on how to deal with Alaska's burgeoning wolf population, a topic of debate at the time among officials and environmental experts.
The governor told her fish and game commissioner in blunt terms that she opposed using state helicopters to hunt wolves and preferred paying private hunters.
“We have to act quickly on this as predators are acting quickly and rural families face ridiculous situation of being forced to import more beef instead of feeding their families our healthy staple of alaskan game. Nonsense. Unacceptable - and not on my watch,” she said.
Her source of information? “Todd interviewed buddies who live out there... Some confirmation that state intervention isn’t first choice w/the locals,” Palin said.”We need to incentivize here,” including providing money for trappers.
The e-mails also reveal Palin’s sensitivity to the way she was portrayed in the media, even at a time when the coverage came mainly from local outlets in Alaska. Palin’s contentious relationship with the national news media has become a major theme of her political persona in the years since the end of the 2008 campaign.
In 2008, for instance, one of Palin’s press aides sent her an essay about Jane Swift, the onetime governor of Massachusetts, who raised young children while in office. Palin responded with a barb about a recent column from a writer at the Anchorage Daily News.
“Pls remind Julia Omalley that ‘they’ said the same thing throughout my career- ‘too young,’ ‘pregnant,’ ‘kids’...’She won’t be able to do it,’ ” Palin wrote. “This coming from good ol’ boys who don’t like change...And so far along in my career we’ve proved them wrong at each turn.”
In another e-mail from 2008, an aide asks about a tanning bed at Palin's house. A Web site, he said, was implying that the state had paid for it--which had set off a flood of calls from other media.
“The old used tanning bed that my girls have used a handful of times in Juneau?,” Palin wrote back. “Yes, we paid for it ourselves.”
(PHOTOS: Sarah Palin’s bus tour)
Palin also expressed concern that she did not have the time to personally monitor and respond to coverage. On Feb. 20, 2007, she wrote that she “will try to carve out time in the day to more fully scan news clippings and try to catch some of the talk shows via internet, but so far I haven’t even found an extra minute to be able to tune into the shows unless I’m ... driving in my car.” She told staffers: “i need folks to really help ramp up accurate counter comments to the misinformation that’s being spread out there.”
The e-mails also reveal how Palin’s personal life often figured in her political one. In one e-mail from July 2008, she told a staffer, “Don’t let me forget to pick up my mom tomorrow after milk run comes into Juneau 3:00- ish I think.”
And in 2007, Palin passed along to a state official a concern that Palin’s brother had picked up, from somebody on his hockey team. The teammate claimed that the Alaska Department of Administration’s procurement office was “playing favorites.”
Palin forwarded the e-mail to Annette Kreitzer in the Dept. of Admin. “Do you know of this issue mentioned in the e-mail below? My brother is asking about someone who lost a contract with the state.”
On April 27, Kreitzer replied with a lengthy response that ended, “I hope this helps you evaluate the criticism that the State acted to ‘favor’ someone else in this invitation to bid. It is my opinion in the face of all of the evidence I have seen, that that assertion is not true.”
The e-mails also show Palin dealing with the management of the Governor’s Mansion. Though it was a ceremonial and government-owned residence, the e-mails show that their home had the same kind of mundane concerns that others do.
One example: as a mother of two teens, Palin was concerned about the alcohol stored in the liquor cabinet in the governor’s mansion, and suggested that it be stowed away in boxes.
“Here’s my thinking: with so many kids and teens coming and going in that house, esp during this season of celebrationstt [sic] for young people — proms, graduations, etc. I want to send the msg that we can be - and ‘the People’s House’ needs to be - alcohol-free,” she wrote to Erika Fagerstrom, the executive residence manager, on May 6, 2007.
At 9 a.m. Alaska time — 1 p.m. in Washington — 24,199 pages of printed-out e-mails that Palin either sent or received on her official account became public. The e-mails cover her first 21 months as governor, from December 2006 to September 2008. The remaining 10 months’ worth could be released later.
News organizations first requested the e-mails after Sen. John S. McCain (R-Ariz.) made Palin his surprise choice for a running mate in the 2008 presidential race.
(VIDEO: The release of Palin’s emails.)
The e-mails released provide a look inside that period, as Palin corresponded with staff members about a flood of requests for media interviews. In one interview from September 2008, a Palin staffer relayed questions about the governor’s favorite poem, and if she believes that dinosaurs and humans coexisted on the earth.
“Arghhhh! I am so sorry that the office is swamped like this! Dinosaurs, even?!” Palin wrote back. She promised to work on answers to some of the questions, and agreed with a the staffer’s assessment that he was “dismayed” by the media.
“I, too, will continue to be dismayed at the media,” Palin said in her reply.
After about a thousand days of delay, the e-mails were distributed in a set of five 55-pound boxes, with sensitive information redacted. The copying fees come to $725.97 for each news outlet. The Washington Post will post the e-mails online.
On Friday morning, the boxes containing the e-mail were stacked chest-high in a state office building in Juneau, marked for news organizations like the Post, MSNBC, and the Associated Press. Some had been pre-loaded on dollies, so they could be rushed away quickly for examination.
“The thousands upon thousands of e-mails released today show a very engaged Governor Sarah Palin being the CEO of her state,” said Tim Crawford, an official at Palin’s political action committee, Sarah PAC. “The e-mails detail a Governor hard at work. Everyone should read them.”
Smaller troves of Palin family e-mails have been made public before. Last year, MSNBC obtained and released 1,200 sent and received by Todd Palin. Just this month, former Palin aide Frank Bailey released a tell-all book about his old boss entitled: “Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin.”
“I think every rock in the Palin household that could ever be kicked over and uncovered anything, it’s already been kicked over,” Palin herself told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” last weekend.
However, she added some caveats. “A lot of those e-mails obviously weren’t meant for public consumption,” she said, and people who read them will “never truly know what the context of each one of the e-mails was.”
State officials said they had reviewed more than 14,000 e-mails, and held back 953 of them because of state records rules. Another 2,373 will be released with some information redacted.
Sharon Leighow, a spokeswoman for Alaska’s current governor, said that the state struggled to cope with nearly 600 records requests from various news organizations. She said that the state had to contract with a private law firm for help with this batch of e-mails.
“The sheer volume has been overwhelming,” said Leighow, who previously worked the state government under the Palin administration for Palin. “We followed the process, and we followed the law.”
The state provided few details about the e-mails that were redacted or withheld. It said many were protected because they were part of a deliberative process, others fell under attorney/client privilege. Other e-mails, the state said, contained private information like phone numbers and e-mails.
Palin conducted some of her state business on a private Yahoo account, and not all of those e-mails are included in the release. E-mails between that account and state accounts are included, but those between two private accounts are not.
Read More: Yahoo