E-mails detail Todd Palin's role in Alaska decision-making

By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 6, 2010; A02

During the 2 1/2 years that his wife, Sarah, was governor of Alaska and then a vice presidential candidate, Todd Palin inserted himself into a host of state decisions, including judicial nominations and gas pipeline bids, according to e-mails released Friday.

Before Sarah Palin resigned her office in July, the "First Dude," as Todd Palin became known, weighed in on appointments to state boards, labor disputes and the use of government aircraft, according to the documents, which were obtained by MSNBC.com under Alaska's public records law.

He also forwarded confidential financial information about his longtime employer, the oil and gas company BP, to a state attorney, e-mails posted online by MSNBC show.

The trove of 3,000 private messages sent and received by Todd Palin further illuminate the personal quirks, machinations and frustrations of the Palins, from plans to install a tanning bed in the governor's mansion to their gripes about the media. Linda Perez, administrative director of the Alaska governor's office, confirmed the e-mails' authenticity Friday to The Washington Post.

Many of the e-mails are about the mundane stuff of everyday life, such as reminders to stock up on vegetables or arrangements to catch a movie. The governor and her husband saw the film "Juno," about an unwed teenage mother, 10 months before their unmarried, then-18-year-old daughter, Bristol, gave birth to a son.

Todd Palin also wrote to staffers at the National Governors Association, urging them to update his photo. "I was looking at the web site, same old picture of me in a tee shirt," he wrote in February 2008.

More than 240 additional e-mails were withheld because of executive privilege, MSNBC reported. A 36-page log of those e-mails shows they cover topics such as "potential veto items" in the state budget, possible lawsuits, a proposed petroleum tax, "strategy for responding to questions about pregnancy" and a "child's orthodontist visit."

It is unclear from the messages how much influence Todd Palin had on government decision-making. At a minimum, the e-mails suggest that a team of state workers was responsive and deferential to him, at times even soliciting his input.

"Hope your picking lots of fish," staffer Ivy Frye signs off on one.

Some of the most colorful communications were sent by Sarah Palin, chosen as Republican John McCain's running mate in 2008.

"Man, that gossip crap bugs me," she wrote after a local political column scrutinized repairs made on the governor's mansion.

"Reminds me of junior high school, where hormonal teenagers are always looking for the drama," an aide responded.

The back-and-forth over the tanning bed revolved around an effort to disguise the purchase as a legitimate state expense. Wrote one staffer: "On a day like today-I wish the bed was ready to go for you to use right away!!"

Thomas Van Flein, an attorney for the Palins, said the e-mails show nothing improper: "There is nothing unusual, untoward or inappropriate for a spouse of a chief executive to provide guidance, input and hands on assistance."

Sarah Palin will address the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville on Saturday.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company