Alaska emails to shine light on political star Palin

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2011 4:13 AM
Alaska emails to shine light on political star Palin

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Alaska will release on Friday copies of some of former governor Sarah Palin's emails, a move that could shed new light on how the possible Republican presidential contender conducted business in office.

More than 24,000 pages of printed emails to and from Palin, who abruptly quit as governor of the oil-rich state nearly two years ago, will be available to those willing to pay $725 for copies and hundreds of dollars more in delivery fees.

The six cartons of documents will include emails from Palin's official gubernatorial account as well as two private Yahoo accounts she used to conduct state business, a practice that critics said circumvented Alaska's open-records law.

About 2,400 pages are being withheld because state attorneys have deemed them to contain privileged information. The emails that are being released will also be redacted to keep private information confidential.

Journalists and Alaska political activist Andree McLeod initially requested release of the emails under state public records laws in the fall of 2008, shortly after Republican presidential nominee John McCain chose Palin as his vice presidential running mate.

At that time, Palin was the subject of a legislative probe into accusations that she abused her power as governor to seek revenge against a state trooper who had been married to her sister.

Some critics say the emails will show that Palin exhibited a pattern of using state resources for personal gain, the settling of scores with perceived enemies and unprofessional conduct in general.

"She was just flying by the seat of her pants," said McLeod, a one-time Palin supporter who is widely credited with publicly disclosing that Palin was using private Yahoo accounts to conduct official state business.

The emails may shed light on Palin's dealings with the oil and gas sector. As governor, she raised taxes on oil companies and clashed with them over a major natural gas pipeline project, while advocating the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeastern Alaska to oil drilling.

IMPACT UNCLEAR

An attorney in Alaska who represents the Palin family was not immediately available to comment on the email release.

But Palin, who has not said whether she will run for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination, addressed the issue on Sunday in a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace, saying she was not concerned about the release.

"I think every rock in the Palin household that could ever be kicked over and uncovered anything, it's already been kicked over. I don't think there's anything private in our family now," she said.

Some of the emails "obviously weren't meant for public consumption," she told Wallace. "So, you know what, I'm sure people are going to capitalize on this opportunity to go through 25,000 emails and perhaps take things out of context."

The Palin administration and that of her successor, current Governor Sean Parnell, also a Republican, have argued that the records request overwhelmed state resources.

Although Alaska's open-records law mandates a 10-day deadline for delivery of public documents when requested, the Palin and Parnell administrations received numerous extensions from state attorneys.

Ivan Moore, a pollster and political consultant who works mostly for Democrats, said he doubts the material will shift opinions about Palin.

"There'll probably be some pretty juicy, gossip-worthy stuff," Moore said. Some emails may indicate some "gray areas" of the law, but, "I kind of doubt that they're going to be any huge bombshell," he added.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Paul Simao)