Alaska releases Sarah Palin’s official emails

US state releases 24,000 pages of former governor’s emails in response to media’s Freedom of Information Act request.

Sarah Palin
The emails date from the start of Palin’s governorship until her choice as McCain’s running mate in 2008 [GALLO/GETTY]

Alaska state officials have released thousands of pages of emails sent and received by Sarah Palin, the state’s former governor, during her first 21 months in office.

Dozens of reporters and photographers gathered at a small office in Juneau, the state capital, on Friday to collect six boxes of email print outs – 24,199 pages that weighed 45kg in total.

The copies were made available to those willing to pay $725 for copies and hundreds of dollars more in delivery fees.

Journalists struggled to transport the large trove with some wheeling them on dollies while others scrambled for access to the elevators.

The carton of documents include emails from Palin’s official gubernatorial account as well as her two private Yahoo accounts that she used to conduct state business.

Friday’s release will cover all of the emails Palin sent, received or was copied on starting from her inauguration in December 2006 through to September 2008 – the month after Senator John McCain chose her for his running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.

Several US media outlets and Alaska political activist Andree McLeod requested the emails’ release under state public records laws in 2008, shortly after Palin joined McCain.

At the time little was known about the Alaska governor, but after Palin’s email account was hacked during the presidential race, it became clear that she conducted a great deal of state business via a personal account.

During that period, Palin was the subject of a legislative probe into accusations that she abused her power as governor to seek revenge against a state trooper who had been married to her sister.

‘Out of context’

Tim Crawford, treasurer at SarahPAC, Palin’s political action committee, said in an email reproduced by the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that the documents “show a very engaged Governor Sarah Palin being the CEO of her state”.

“The emails detail a governor hard at work. Everyone should read them.”

Palin discussed the issue on Sunday in an interview on the Fox News channel, saying that she was not concerned.

“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 told Chris Wallace, the interviewer.

“[Some of the emails] obviously weren’t meant for public consumption …  So, you know what, I’m sure people are going to capitalize on this opportunity to go through 25,000 emails and perhaps take things out of context.”

On Friday, Palin tweeted a link, minutes after the release, to the Facebook page for “The Undefeated” – a documentary about her political rise and her time as governor.

A lawyer in Alaska who represents the Palin family was not immediately available to comment on the email release.


The scale of the released information, the isolated location of the Alaskan state capital, and the limited internet bandwidth in the city of 30,000 has forced media outlets to be creative in finding faster ways to transmit the information.

Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington, said that journalists in Juneau have been racing to be the first to scan the documents so they are available for digital access.

Various media outlets announced their ongoing plans to create searchable databases or hire readers to help reporters comb through the emails.

The sheer volume of the emails helped caused the nearly three-year delay in their release, alongside a flood of requests for access.

The Palin administration, and that of her successor, current governor Sean Parnell, also a Republican, have argued that the request has overwhelmed state resources.

Despite the anticipation and excitement, it is unclear what the documents will actually divulge about Palin.

After reviewing the records, Alaska gave Palin’s lawyers an opportunity to see if the emails had any privacy concerns with what was being released.

Linda Perez, the incumbent Alaska governor’s administrative director who co-ordinated the release, told the A P news agency that no emails were withheld or redacted as a result of that.

Some analysts say the emails may shed light on Palin’s dealings with the oil and gas sector, including companies such as BP and Exxon Mobil.

As governor of oil-rich Alaska, 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 the northeast of the state for oil drilling.

Critics say the emails will out Palin as habitually using state resources for personal gain, the settling of scores with perceived enemies and unprofessional conduct in general.

Andree 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, said: “She was just flying by the seat of her pants”.

Palin, who has had a meteoric rise in the political sphere, has not made clear whether she will run for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies