Sarah Palin’s Emails: All the released Palin emails are now back in their electronic form, online.
Thousands of pages of email from Sarah Palin’s time as Alaska Governor have been digitized and made public online. Both journalists and the general public pore through her personal correspondence with top aides in hopes of better understanding the former governor and Vice Presidential candidate. NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports.
By Sylvia Wood and Bill Dedman, msnbc.com
JUNEAU, Alaska — The 24,000 pages of emails from Sarah Palin’s term as governor of Alaska were released at 9 a.m. local time Friday, or 1 p.m. ET. Reporters from msnbc.com, the news website, are live-blogging the event here.
Refresh this page (F5) to see the latest information.
This is our last post tonight. We’ll start Saturday at 8 a.m. Juneau time, or 12 p.m. ET, in a new post here on Open Channel, as citizens continue to read the emails at Centennial Hall in Juneau.
8:17 a.m. AT (12:17 p.m. ET): Residents of Juneau are back in Centennial Hall this morning, reading the public records. Come on down if you’re in the neighborhood. We’ll be reading and blogging until 3 p.m. local time, or 7 p.m. back East. Of course, the full archive is now online through msnbc.com, and searchable, but there’s a power in turning the pages.
9:18 p.m. AT (1:18 a.m. ET) The #palinemail online archive is complete: 12,045 docs and 24,361 pages scanned and made searchable after just 12 hours. (Not counting the nearly 1,000 days it took for the state to respond to msnbc.com’s request under the public records law.) Thanks to the great people at Crivella West for their work today. The archive is hosted by msnbc.com and co-sponsored by Mother Jones magazine and Pro Publica. It’s all here.
6:25 p.m. AT (10:25 ET): When the Alaska Legislature appointed investigator Stephen Branchflower to look into possible ethics violations by Gov. Palin’s role in the “Troopergate” case, the Palin administration’s response was to spread rumors about his wife to attack his credibility. In a series of emails on Aug. 1, 2008, the governor and her aides discussed how to respond to the inquiry. The conversation is heavily censored. The current governor’s office withheld most of the e-mail thread. But the progression is clear. It starts with the subject line, “Fw: Branchflower,” with questions posed by the Anchorage Daily News, which asked whether the Palin administration’s planned to cooperate with the investigation. The content is mostly marked “Privileged or Personal Material Redacted.” Then Palin changed the subject line to “Re: Fairness?: Branchflower.” We can’t see what the governor wrote. Then the governor changed the subject line again, to “Re: MRS.: Fairness?: Branchflower,” with this message from her Blackberry and her Yahoo account firstname.lastname@example.org: “Just got another call about Mrs. Blanchflower [sic] having retired after working FOR Walt at APD and the conflict involved there.” Walt is apparently Monegan, whom she dismissed in a dispute that began with Palin family difficulties with a state trooper who was Palin’s former brother-in-law. Press aide Sharon Leighow replies, “I dropped all sorts of questions about linda,” referring to Branchflower’s wife, “… license lasping [sic] … Walt association etc.” Palin replied again from her Blackberry, “Thank u.” That email thread is in this PDF file.
5:54 p.m. AT (9:54 ET): Guess who was in favor of using the public records laws to read emails of state officials and employees? During August 2008, when she was upset about administrationand budgets in the state’s Department of Public Safety, Palin sent this email to Randall Ruaro, her deputy chief of staff: “Very, very concerning the ‘untruths’ coming from them. I am dumbfounded at this, as I have never worked in an organization where these unethical practices seem to go ignored and unanswered. The lack of accountability is appalling in all of this. It is so concerning, the damage that is being done and the public trust that is eroding, that we need to gather as much information as possible, including FOIA-ing emails, tapes, communications in all forms, regarding the untruthful information being spread to the public.” The rest of this email, like so many others, was withheld by the governor’s office.
5:45 p.m. AT (9:45 ET): When the McCain campaign announced in Sept. 2008 that Palin’s 17-year-old daughter Bristol was five months pregnant, many wondered whether the bombshell news would sink the ticket.
Emails show that as early as April, Palin was trying to quash what she described as rumors about her daughter’s condition. “I wish I could shame people into ceasing such gossip about a teen, but can’t figure out how to do that,” she wrote on April 22, 2008. Apparently, the gossip was widespread, and even Palin’s pediatrician had heard about it, which she addressed in another email:
“Hate to pick at this one again, but have heard three different times today the rumor again the Bristol is pregnant or had this baby. Even at Trig’s doc appt this morning his doc said that’s out there (hopefully NOT in their medical community-world, but it’s out there). Bristol called again this afternoon asking if there’s anything we can do to stop this, as she received two girlfriend-type calls today asking if it were true.”
Bristol went on to have a healthy boy in late December but plans to marry the child’s father, Levi Johnston, fell apart in the following months. She later was appointed as a teen ambassador for The Candie’s Foundation to raise awareness about teen pregnancy prevention. Tax documents from 2009 show she earned $262,000 for her work.
5:28 p.m. AT (9:28 ET): Do you suppose that most governors try to get their friends and aides to vote in online polls on political issues? From a broadcast e-mail by Palin in November 2007, “On ktuu.com vote on their on-line poll re: disagreeing with today’s Ak Supreme Court parental consent opinion” on abortion rights. And “aksuperstation.com also has a poll.”
5:16 p.m. AT (9:16 ET): In case you were wondering, Gov. Palin’s favorite expletive when she’s pleased is “Holy flipping A.” When she’s not happy, it’s “unflippinbelievable.”
4:27 p.m. AT (8:27 ET): As the mother of two teens during her time in office, Palin sought some help from her staff in keeping the alcohol in the governor’s mansion away from young people. She wanted it boxed up and “removed from the People’s House,” according to one email dated May 6, 2007.
“Here’s my thinking: with so many kids and teens coming and going in that house, esp during this season of celebrationstt for young people – proms, graduations, etc, I want to send the msg that we can be – and “the People’ s House” needs to be – alcohol-free. There’s a lot of booze there – its too accessible and may be too tempting to any number of all those teens coming and going.”
3:57 p.m. AT (7:57 ET): Gov. Palin’s staff ghost-wrote a newspaper op-ed piece for her ally Kristan Cole in 2007, during the controversy over a dairy called Matanuska Creamery. (This is a well-known controversy in Alaska, where the it’s known as the Mat Maid dairy. You can read a summary here.) In September 2007, Kristan Cole, Palin’s good friend and chairwoman of the creamery’s board, submitted an op-ed piece. Deputy press secretary Sharon Leighow sent around an e-mail: “Folks – This is our final draft of the Mat Maid Op/Ed to be submitted on behalf of Kristan Cole. Thoughts?” Palin responded to the group, “i’m tweaking it.” The conversation continued the rest of the day, with another aid, Bruce Anders, writing, “I edited substantially from the original, and including some major rewrites and deletions.” The public cannot see what was written, or rewritten, because the office of Gov. Parnell, Palin’s former lieutenant governor, deleted that content with the note, “Privileged or Personal Material Redacted.” What could be privileged or personal about a rewritten ghostwritten op-ed column?
3:31 p.m. AT (7:24 ET): We have 10,494 pages online now, making a final push to get the archive complete today.
3:24 p.m. AT (7:24 ET): Gov. Palin had more than the Yahoo accounts. Not only did she use email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org to conduct state business, but she also used email@example.com, an address set up for her by an aide. Very little of her official business went through her official email accounts. Remember, under the state’s policy so far, citizens of Alaska are still not able to see emails sent between her private accounts and the private accounts of her staff and department heads. There’s more about those holes in the document release, in our main story on msnbc.com.
NBC’s Michael Isikoff and Mother Jones’ David Corn discuss the newly released Sarah Palin emails.
3:17 p.m. AT (7:17 ET): Early in 2008, Palin wrote an email about a conversation she had with Mike Huckabee, who at the time was locked in a battle with Ariz. Sen. John McCain for the Republican nomination for president. As her Jan. 30 email indicates, Palin was still deciding whom to endorse, but liked what she heard from Huckabee, a Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor.
“He called. Very cool. Unless McCain calls, Huck’s a good pick for me, just fyi. He says he’s all for gasline and anwr- very cool.”
Of course, McCain did call, many months after he had already cinched the nomination and both Huckabee and Mitt Romney had dropped out of the race. Republicans didn’t officially nominate McCain until September 2008 at the GOP’s national convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, when his decision to pick Palin as his running mate launched her onto the national stage.
3:07 p.m. AT (7:07 ET): Does anyone know about a vandalism case? On May 12, 2008, the state attorney general, Travis Colberg, her old friend from Wasilla, e-mailed the governor with the subject line, “Vandalism case.” The entire email is withheld under “confidential/attorney client privilege.” We see only her reply from her Blackberry, “Got it. Thank you.”
2:45 p.m. AT (6:45 ET): After she was named as Sen. John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Palin started getting e-mails from citizens asking whether her attentions were still focused on the state. One citizen asked whether taxpayers still had to pay her salary, now that she was working for the McCain campaign. The governor replied by asking her staff make sure that she appeared to be involved in state issues every day. After an announcement on the state Permanent Fund dividend went out under the name of Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, Palin wrote to deputy Michael Nizich on Sept. 6, 2008, “As often as possible we’ll need to have the announcements come under my name in these next few weeks. Pls let Comm (Communications) know that we need to do that. Thanks. Also – is there anything else to announce soon? Remember we talked about having almost daily annoucements coming from our office w my name on it so alaskans know that still my #1 priority is serving them as Gov.”
2:34 p.m. AT (6:34 ET): In one email, dated Jan. 2, 2007 (PDF file opens in a new window), Sarah Palin reminds an aide that even though she’s a hunter, she’s opposed to bear hunting in the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, 200 square miles of protected wildlife habitat located approximately 250 miles southwest of Anchorage. Her argument invokes fond memories of growing up in Alaska. She writes:
“I am a hunter. I grew up hunting – some of my best memories growing up are of hunting with my dad to help feel our freezer… I want Alaskans to have access to wildlife… BUT – he’s asking if I support hunting the bears in the sanctuary? No, I don’t… I don’t know any Alaskans who do support hunting the McNeil bears that frequent the viewing area. Many Alaskan and Outside visitors view these animals on the McNeil river, within the sanctuary, and, as my parents have reported back after their viewing trip, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see such beauty on that river.”
1:59 p.m. AT (5:59 ET): What one gets from reading emails is often not a spectular fact, but a chance to hear an unvarnished tone. The so-called Troopergate investigation runs through the first years of the emails, with Palin returning again and again to the misbehavior of Mike Wooten, an Alaska State trooper, who is also Palin’s ex-brother-in-law and at the time was embroiled with Palin’s sister, Molly McCann, in a contentious child custody dispute. One example, on July 17, 2007, at 6:16 a.m., the governor commented on a legislator’s proposal to limit gun purchases by dangerous people. “The first thought that hit me when reading Gara ‘s quote about people able to buy guns when they’re threatening to kill someone went to my ex brother-in-law, who threatened to kill my dad yet was not even reprimanded by his bosses and still to this day has a gun, of course. We can’t have double standards. Remember when that 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. Amazing. And he’s still a trooper, and he still carries a gun , and he still tells anyone who will listen that he will ‘never work for that b*itch’ (me) because he has such anger and distain towards family. So consistency is needed here. No one’s above the law. If the law needs to be changed to not allow access to guns for people threatening to kill someone, it must apply to everyone. Hopefully we’ll all meet on this soon , as Gara will be expecting a response soon.”
1:31 p.m. AT (5:31 ET): In an email on Aug. 6, 2008, Gov. Palin spots trouble for travel expense records that she describes as “obviously inconsistent and blundered.” The Anchorage Daily News had requested copies of records, and the governor (not her staff) noticed that some forms were not signed, others had no explanation of the ttravel purpose, and others were missing entirely from the records being released. “But I’m not going to worry about those either I guess,” Palin told her staff. “We need to be prepared to take heat for findings in these Gov’s Office travels as some of the TAs (travel authorizations) are obviously inconsistent and blundered.”
12:49 p.m. AT (4:49 ET): We now have 4,681 pages online. (Link opens in a new window.)
12:19 p.m. AT (4:19 ET): Just a note for those who enjoy tweaking President Barack Obama for using a teleprompter. (Doesn’t every president or governor use a teleprompter for speeches?) On March 20, 2007, Gov. Palin’s staff was setting up an interview on natural gas issues with Energy TV from Canada. Here’s how the interview was set up: Her aide, Sharon Leighow, asked the questions, and the answers were posted on a teleprompter for Palin to read. Then the fake interview was uploaded by satellite to Energy TV. “You’re awesome,” the governor told her staff. “You’re all awesome. What a day…” Here’s a copy of that email. (PDF file opens in a new window.)
12:11 p.m. AT (4:11 AT): In an e-mail on March 18, 2007, Gov. Palin complains that an article in the Juneau Empire newspaper described information being held back fro the public (relating to the transition committee reports on the Alaska Permanent Fund). The Gov. says to her staff, “If there’s something you can do to help un-do the records withholding issue that at least three reporters are sort of up-in-arms about, please do so. I campaigned on open and transparent government. I don’t know why the issue covered in the article today was ever NOT made public.” She says the “gist of the article is so disappointing because it’s 180-degrees from where I want to be with information deserving to be seen by the public.” The email released today includes a staff statement that no information was withheld. But part of the email today is redacted as a “privileged or personal” matter, so it’s not even clear what’s being discussed.
11:54 a.m. AT (3:54 PM): The second bite of Palin emails have been uploaded to our online archvive. (Link opens in a new window.) That’s a total of 1,732 pages out of 24,199. Bigger batches will come online faster now.
11:28 a.m. AT (3:28 PM): In many cases it appears that Gov. Parnell’s office has withheld the attachments from emails. It’s common to see emails pointing to an interesting document attached, but that document was not made available today to the public.
11:25 a.m. AT (3:25 PM): An email from February 19, 2007, shows a meeting planned between Palin and Pete Rouse, described as “chief of staff for a guy named Barack Obama.” At that point Obama may not have heard of Palin either.
11:14 a.m. AT (3:14 ET): A typical email, on March 8, 2007, from Palin aide Ivy Frye to Gov. Palin: Here’s how it looks: “Re: (Privileged) on AK Workforce Investment Board. When you have a minute I need to fill you in on (Privileged or Personal Mater Redacted.) I can better explain via telephone.”
10:17 a.m. AT (2:17 ET): The first bite of 533 pages of Palin emails have been uploaded to the online archive. (Link opens in a new window.) That’s 533 out of 24,199. Will be coming online quickly now.
10:05 a.m. AT (2:05 ET): Ken LeBlanc of Lenexa, Kan., wants you all to know that he doesn’t think we should be posting these public records online for everyone to see. “Sarah Palins Email? Do you really consider this news? Really? They pay you actual money?”
9:49 a.m. AT (1:49 ET): “The thousands upon thousands of emails released today show a very engaged Gov. Sarah Palin being the CEO of her state,” said a statement from the treasurer of SarahPAC, Tim Crawford. “The emails detail a governor hard at work. Everyone should read them.”
9:44 a.m. AT (1:44 ET): Some of the documents withheld:
The list of withheld documents itself is 189 pages, showing the 2,275 withheld pages, and is online now at msnbc.com. Here’s the link to see the large PDF file. Among those emails withheld from the public were those detailing potential state appointees, judicial candidates and others having to do with legal advice, settlements and staffing issues. Others appeared to have nothing to do with state business, such as one message about “children, dinner, and prayer.”
Others removed from public view include several having to do with newspapers and editorials, including two citing a “response to Juneau Empire article.” Another two related to a “child custody matter,” and a meeting with “W. Monegan,” who had served as the Alaska public safety commissioner until being dismissed in July 2008 in connection with the scandal known as “Troopergate.”
At the time, Palin had reassigned commissioner Monegan because of performance-related issues. Monegan said his forced resignation may have been tied to his reluctance to fire Mike Wooten, an Alaska State trooper, who is also Palin’s ex-brother-in-law and at the time was embroiled with Palin’s sister, Molly McCann, in a contentious child custody dispute.
9:25 a.m. AT (1:25 ET): The log of documents withheld by the governor’s office is online now at msnbc.com. Here’s the PDF file (it’s a large file with the list running to 189 pages. The number of pages of e-mails withheld is 2,275.)
9:05 a.m. AT Friday (1:05 ET): The documents were released, and if you were in Juneau you’d see reporters spilling boxes as they try to push handtrucks downhill. Not much handtruck experience among the press corps, apparently. The scanning and reading have begun.
Volunteers from the League of Women Voters and the Retired Public Employees of Alaska have joined us at the city’s Centennial Hall convention center to help look at the records.
And a free, public, searchable archive will go online, later Friday, at http://palinemail.msnbc.msn.com, in partnership with Mother Jones and Pro Publica. David Corn at Mother Jones tells the entire saga of the wait for the emails.
If you find interesting documents in either place, post details here, giving enough information to help us find that email so we can provide the full document, in context.
Our staffers from msnbc.com and NBC News are in Juneau, and this blog is where you’ll find the latest information from both efforts, the old-fashioned and the new.
Feel free to post comments here, but let’s keep it on topic and civil, please.