Gov. Palin hiding husband's correspondence related to trooper union
E-mails between Todd Palin, Gov's aides among hundreds kept secret
Dozens of e-mails exchanged among several government employees and Todd Palin, the husband of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who has no formal role in her administration, are not being turned over in response to an open records request in the state.
The e-mails are being kept secret ostensibly because they deal with policy deliberations between the governor and her staff, the contents of which do not have to be disclosed to the public. However, Todd Palin's presence in the e-mail chains seems to belie concerns that their contents need to remain strictly in the domain of the state government.
Another possible reason for the withholding is the political damage that could accompany disclosure of the e-mails. According to subject lines of the e-mails, they seem to deal with a public sector union representing Alaska state troopers that the Palins have been feuding with for years as well as one of the governor's main political opponents.
Mother Jones' David Corn outlined the backstory behind the missing e-mails Monday.
In June, Andrée McLeod, a self-described independent government watchdog in Alaska, sent an opens record act request to the office of Governor Sarah Palin. She requested copies of all the emails that had been sent and received by Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey, two top aides to Palin, from February through April of this year. McLeod, a 53-year-old registered Republican who has held various jobs in state government, suspected that Frye and Bailey had engaged in political activity during official business hours in that period by participating in a Palin-backed effort to oust the state chairman of the Alaska Republican party, Randy Ruedrich. (Bailey has been in the national news of late for refusing to cooperate with investigators probing whether Palin fired Alaska's public safety commission because he did not dismiss a state trooper who had gone through an ugly divorce with Palin's sister.)
In response to her request, McLeod received four large boxes of emails. This batch of documents did not contain any proof that Frye and Bailey had worked on government time to boot out Ruedrich. But there was other information she found troubling. Several of the emails suggested to her that Palin's office had used its influence to reward a Fairbanks surveyor who was a Palin fundraiser with a state job. In early August, McLeod filed a complaint with the state attorney general against Palin, Bailey, and other Palin aides, claiming they had violated ethics and hiring laws. Palin, now the Republican vice-presidential candidate, told the Alaska Daily News that "there were no favors done for anybody."
But more intriguing than any email correspondence contained in the four boxes was what was not released: about 1100 emails. Palin's office provided McLeod with a 78-page list (PDF) cataloging the emails it was withholding. Many of them had been written by Palin or sent to her.
Of the withheld e-mails, at least four dozen include Todd Palin, and many of those refer either to the Public Service Employees Association, a union representing law enforcement officers in Alaska. Others including Todd Palin reference Andrew Halco, a former state lawmaker who ran as an independent against Sarah Palin in 2006. Since losing that race, he's become a blogger who frequently criticizes Palin's administration.
A string of e-mails sent over several days in late March and early April refer to "PSEA Ads" and a "PR Campaign," although nothing but the subject line in the e-mails has been released on the grounds that they deal with "deliberative process" and executive privilege.
It's unclear precisely what the ads or PR campaigns were, but municipal elections were held in Anchorage on April 1, during the timeframe the e-mails were being exchanged. RAW STORY has left a message with the PSEA's executive director seeking more information.
The PSEA represents Alaska State Troopers, and Gov. Palin is alleged to have fired the state's Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan after he refused to have her former brother-in-law fired from the state police force.
Monegan showed the Washington Post separate e-mails from Sarah Palin's personal Yahoo! e-mail account in which she showed intense interest in the investigation of trooper Mike Wooten, who allegedly threatened Pallin's family while divorcing her sister.
In one e-mail from July of 2007, Palin criticized the fact that Wooten was "not even reprimanded by his bosses" after allegedly threatening to kill her father, and she implied that the union was protecting him.
"Remember when the death threat was reported, and follow-on threats from Mike that he was going to 'bring Sarah and her family down' -- instead of any reprimand WE were told by trooper union personnel that we'd be sued if we talked about those threats," she wrote to Monegan.
Whether the e-mails circulated between Palin's husband and the governor's staffers were similarly critical of the union is not known, but activists hope such information may come to light before the election.
McLeod, who filed the initial public records request, said she will appeal the decision to keep the 1,100 e-mails private.