Anchorage: The state of Alaska on Friday released copies of some of former governor Sarah Palin’s e-mails, documents that could shed light on how the possible Republican US presidential contender conducted business.
More than 24,000 pages of printed e-mails to and from Palin, who abruptly quit as governor of the oil-rich state nearly two years ago, were made available on Friday to those willing to pay USD 725 for copies and hundreds of dollars more in delivery fees.
The e-mails, some heavily redacted to remove private or privileged information, come from the first two years of Palin’s time as governor — December 2006 to September 2008– and range over subjects from tax breaks for oil companies to protecting bears from hunting in sanctuaries.
The six cartons of documents include e-mails from Palin’s official 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.
Dozens of reporters descended on the state capital, Juneau, to get earliest access to the documents, which were first requested in 2008 shortly after Republican presidential nominee John McCain chose Palin as his vice presidential running mate.
After the Republican loss to US President Barack Obama, Palin quit the governorship with more than a year left in her term to embark on a more visible national career as a television commentator and author. She has not said whether she would run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
Journalists and Alaska political activist Andree McLeod sought the e-mails under state public records laws in 2008.
At that time, Palin was the subject of a legislative probe into accusations she abused her power as governor to seek revenge against a state trooper who had been married to her sister.
The New York Times and The Washington Post started scanning and posting the e-mails on their websites, and are asking readers to comment.
The MSNBC cable TV network is working with data research firm Crivella West to produce a searchable database online, some of which is available at palinemail.msnbc.msn.com.
About 2,400 pages are being withheld because state attorneys have deemed them to contain privileged information.
The e-mails “show a very engaged Governor Sarah Palin being the CEO of her state”, said Tim Crawford, treasurer at SarahPAC, Palin’s political action committee. “The e-mails detail a governor hard at work. Everyone should read them.”
‘Seat of her pants’
Some critics say the e-mails 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 e-mails may shed light on Palin’s dealings with the oil and gas sector, including companies such as BP and Exxon Mobil. 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.
An attorney in Alaska who represents the Palin family was not immediately available to comment on the e-mail release.
Palin 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 e-mails “obviously weren’t meant for public consumption”, she told Wallace. “So, you know what, I’m sure people are going to capitalise on this opportunity to go through 25,000 e-mails and perhaps take things out of context.”
Alaska’s open-records law mandates a 10-day deadline for delivery of public documents when requested, but Alaska officials argued the request overwhelmed state resources and received numerous extensions.
Requests by news organisations to see e-mails up to Palin’s resignation as governor in July 2009 are still pending.
About 3,000 of Palin’s husband Todd’s e-mails were released last year after a request by NBC. Zee News