Appeal Filed in the Case of Sarah Palin’s Secret Emails

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Days ago, Mother Jones reported that Governor Sarah Palin’s office withheld about 1100 emails in response to an open records act request filed in June and claimed that these emails to and from Palin aides and the governor herself covered confidential and official policy deliberations between Palin and her staffers. But the list (PDF) of the undisclosed emails indicates that many had subject lines suggesting they were not about policy matters. (A series of emails referred to one of Palin’s political foes, another set to a well-known Alaskan journalist.) And many of the emails were CC’ed to Todd Palin, the governor’s husband, who holds no official position in her administration. On Tuesday, Andrée McLeod, the independent watchdog who filed the original request, submitted an appeal (PDF), asking Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, to review the decision to keep these emails secret. Here is the statement McLeod issued afterward:

September 9, 2008, Anchorage, Alaska—Andrée McLeod, a registered Republican and well-known citizen watchdog filed an administrative appeal in which Ms. McLeod requested Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to review the decision to withhold or redact over 1,100 public records in violation of the Alaska Public Records Act. The records document the day-to-day operation of the Governor’s Office and members of her administration during Sarah Palin’s tenure as governor.

“The people of Alaska have a right to know the inner workings of their government. They have a right to know how the individuals they elect to public office are discharging the public trust,” McLeod said. “The decision to hide documents to which state law allows citizens to have access suggests that Governor Palin’s promise to have a transparent administration is bogus.”

“Equally troubling,” said Donald Mitchell, the Anchorage attorney who is representing Ms. McLeod, “is the fact that the records that have been provided to Ms. McLeod document that for the past two years Governor Palin has allowed her husband, Todd Palin, to compromise governmental decision-making by inserting himself whenever he chooses to do so into the day-to-day operations of the Office of the Governor.”

Documents received in response to a public records request by McLeod contained logs of undisclosed emails and thousands of e-mails assigned to Palin administration appointees Frank Bailey and Ivy Frye. The logs and redacted e-mails are the basis of this administrative appeal.

“Keeping government communications secret is not being a ‘champion of transparent government’ and fails to meet Governor Palin’s promises that she established and ran on,” McLeod says. “What is Sarah Palin hiding?”

Will Palin get to this review before Election Day—if at all?

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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