After a years-long delay, the state of Alaska released over 24,000 pages of emails from Sarah Palin’s half-term as Alaska governor on Friday.
By CBS NEWS
After a years-long delay, the state of Alaska released over 24,000 pages of emails from Sarah Palin’s time as Alaska governor on Friday.
The emails were released as paper printouts to the media outlets that requested them, among them CBS News, which has a reporter in Juneau collecting boxes of emails. The six boxes of emails were in excess of 100 pounds; media outlets paid $725 each for access to them.
Journalists are now busy reviewing the emails, which includes emails from and to Palin and her staff, for nuggets of information from Palin’s roughly half-term as Alaska governor. A number of media outlets also had plans to scan the emails and make them available publicly, and some are asking readers to help review them. (It is not entirely clear why the state is not simply making the emails available electronically.) The first few pages have already appeared online; you can see them here or here.
The emails were first requested back when Palin was the Republican vice presidential nominee. Multiple media outlets requested the documents, and the state lumped all the requests together. The release covers emails from the start of 2007 to September 2008 – most of Palin’s time as governor, though not all of it. (She served from December 2006 through the summer of 2009. The emails from the remainder of her tenure have been requested, but the state has not yet reviewed them.)
Alaska is supposed to respond to document requests within ten days, but they can ask for extensions, and they did so repeatedly when it came to the Palin emails, which were first requested in 2008.
The release does not represent a complete record of Palin’s email communications. For starters, the state of Alaska decided to redact information from some emails, and simply withhold others. (The state said it was withholding more than 2,000 pages out of executive privilege, attorney-client privilege and other concerns.) Reporters do not seem to have any way to judge whether the state’s decisions about redaction and withholding are justified; Palin’s former lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, is now the state’s governor.
In addition, Palin and her aides were known to use private email accounts, possibly to avoid some messages becoming public. The Associated Press reports that “Palin gave the state a CD with emails from her Yahoo account, and other employees were asked to review their private accounts for emails related to state business and to send those to their state accounts,” but it’s not clear what information from the private accounts, if any, will be included in the release.
And Palin’s attorneys were given access to the emails before they were released publicly, though the state maintains it did not withhold or redact any emails as a result of their concerns.
On Sunday, Palin told Fox News, where she is a paid contributor, that the email release was not a problem for her, since her tenure had already been thoroughly examined. She added, however, that “a lot of those emails obviously weren’t meant for public consumption” and warned that some could be taken out of context.
Palin’s political action committee welcomed the release.
“The thousands upon thousands of emails released today show a very engaged Gov. Sarah Palin being the CEO of her state,” said SarahPAC treasurer Tim Crawford. “The emails detail a governor hard at work. Everyone should read them.”
Among the controversies that could potentially be reignited thanks to the email release are the “Troopergate” saga concerning alleged pressure from the Palin family to fire a state trooper and Palin’s role in the creation.