Sarah Palin’s e-mails: What to expect

at 12:00 PM ET, 06/08/2011

E-mails sent by Sarah Palin during her tenure as governor of Alaska will be released Friday at 9 a.m. at the state capitol in Juneau — and The Fix will be there.

The messages were requested by a number of journalists and citizens during the 2008 campaign when Palin was the Republican vice presidential nominee, but the governor’s office — under both Palin and her successor, Gov. Sean Parnell (R) — has repeatedly sought to delay the release. Officials said they were simply technologically unprepared to handle the requests.

In January, after about a thousand days of delay, the Alaska attorney general declared that the e-mails had to be released by the end of May. (New requests for copies delayed the printing until now).

Some long-time Palin observers are skeptical that the release will bring anything revelatory.

Last year, MSNBC obtained and released 1,200 e-mails sent and received by Palin’s husband Todd. Just this month, former Palin aide Frank Bailey released a tell-all book about his old boss entitled: “Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin.” There’s a sense that the most interesting Palin material is already out in the world.

Palin herself has suggested as much. “I think every rock in the Palin household that could ever be kicked over and uncovered anything, it’s already been kicked over,” she told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” last weekend.

However, she added some caveats that suggested she was still a little worried about what might come out. “A lot of those e-mails obviously weren’t meant for public consumption,” she said, and people who read them will “never truly know what the context of each one of the e-mails was.”

The 24,199 messages cover most of Palin’s tenure, from the beginning of 2007 through September 30, 2008. State officials are printing out the e-mails because they say they do not have the technology to redact sensitive information digitally. Gov. Parnell’s office decided to withhold 2,275 e-mails for privacy reasons and exemptions in the state records law.

Each person or organization who requested copies will get five 55-pound boxes of documents at three cents a page, or $725.97. The price is down significantly from 2008, when Palin’s office told news organizations that the e-mails could cost as much as $15 million.

Palin conducted some of her state business on a private Yahoo account, and not all of those e-mails are included in the release. E-mails between that account and state accounts are included, but e-mails between two private accounts are not.

A challenge is pending in the Alaska Supreme Court over whether the private e-mails about state business should be made public. When Palin was governor, she was criticized for using a private account for work-related reasons. Like some members of the Bush administration, she was accused of attempting to get around open records laws. Courts have ordered her to preserve those e-mails in case they are deemed public.

In 2008, a college student named David Kernell hacked into Palin’s Yahoo account and posted some of her communications on WikiLeaks.org. He argued that the e-mails were part of the public record and thus he did not commit a crime; he was sentenced to serve one year in a prison camp in Kentucky.

 
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