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CAMPAIGN '08: ELECTION STRATEGY

Activist seeks Palin e-mails

A public records request includes more than 1,100 messages, including 40 copied to Palin's husband.

September 10, 2008|Karl Vick | Washington Post

WASILLA, ALASKA — Gov. Sarah Palin is being asked by a local Republican activist to release more than 1,100 e-mails she withheld from a public records request, including 40 that were copied to her husband, Todd.

Palin had claimed executive privilege for documents copied to her husband, who is not a state employee, in responding to an open records request in June made by Andree McLeod, an activist in Anchorage.

The administrative appeal filed Tuesday by McLeod's attorney, Donald C. Mitchell, argued that by copying Todd Palin on sensitive state correspondence, the governor and her aides shattered the privilege rightly afforded elected officials.

"She has allowed Todd Palin -- who has not been elected by the people of Alaska, who is not a state employee -- to entangle himself apparently as he sees fit in the operations of the executive branch of the state government," Mitchell said.

"From the case law, if government voluntarily opens up that internal decision-making to what I would call civilians, then that is waiver of that protection of the government policy decision-making process. That is what happened here, and it happened because Sarah Palin doesn't understand it," he said.

Todd Palin was frequently copied on e-mails relating to Alaska State Troopers and the union representing public safety employees, according to McLeod, who received four boxes of redacted e-mails in response to her request.

At the time, both Sarah and Todd Palin were complaining to the state public safety commissioner about a disciplinary matter involving her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper.

Palin also routinely does government business from a Yahoo address, gov.sarah@yahoo.com, rather than from her secure official state e-mail address, according to documents already made public.

"Whoops!" Palin aide Frank Bailey wrote, after addressing an e-mail to the governor's official state address.

"Frank, This is not the Governor's personal account," a secretary reminded him.

Calls seeking response from the governor were not immediately returned.

Palin last month described McLeod as a disgruntled former employee, although in 2004 Palin endorsed her as a state House candidate "not afraid to stand up for what's right."

Mitchell's appeal, addressed to Palin in her capacity as the decision-maker on the earlier records request, questions the wisdom of the governor and her aides in shipping messages about state business between their public and private e-mail accounts "with complete and total abandon."

"There's a reason the governor should be using her own official e-mail channels, because of security and encryption," the lawyer said.

"She's running state business out of Yahoo?"

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