Sarah Palin’s Many Fences of Obstruction: She Can Run but She Can’t Hide
Sarah Palin is all the news for the fence on top of a fence she built to protect herself from the prying eyes of a stalker—or, as we say in reality, a highly respected investigative journalist. The fence nailed to another fence is the perfect analogy to Palin’s modus operandi: Palin lives in fear of exposure and has been known even as a Mayor for her press black-outs, obstruction of transparency and lack of accountability to the people. She continued such tactics as governor of Alaska. The AP requested emails under the Alaska Public Records Act (Freedom of Information Act request) from the Palin administration over a year and a half ago were just released recently, serving as a perfect example of Palin’s secretive nature .
In 2008, the AP attempted to do their job as journalists to inform the people about a candidate who was running for Vice President and was an unknown to the lower 48. They, along with several other media outlets such as MSNBC, put in a Freedom of Information Request for Palin administration emails. In the AP’s case, the request centered on the pipeline project Palin touted as a major accomplishment.
Of course, those of us who researched Palin knew that the pipeline had actually not been built, contrary to Palin’s less than accurate claims on the campaign trail. And not only had it not been built, but it seemed highly unlikely that it would ever be built. If Palin was so proud of this achievement, why did her administration block the release of the pertinent emails for almost two years? The AP reports:
“The correspondence is contained in more than 2,000 pages of e-mails between Palin’s office and others surrounding the pipeline process. The e-mails were released to The Associated Press this week under a public records request filed in 2008, when Palin was the Republican vice presidential nominee. Palin resigned as governor last year.”
The emails that were released reveal a possible synching of messaging with the firm who won the contract for the Pipeline as well as revealing that Palin may have had inappropriate contact with the executives at TransCanada:
“The documents also illustrate some of the contacts between the administration and TransCanada.
Marty Rutherford, a Palin point person on the pipeline team, chided a TransCanada vice president in an Aug. 4, 2008, e-mail for comments the company’s chief executive made about the project requiring the involvement of Exxon Mobil Corp., a company that’s had a bitter history in Alaska.
“We need to ensure that comments about the Producers are scripted in the future,” Rutherford wrote to Tony Palmer, TransCanada’s vice president for Alaska Development.
Palmer responded that he understood the state and TransCanada should be coordinated “to the best of our ability” and would try to sensitize TransCanada to “that requirement.””
This is, of course, unseemly and in light of Palin’s recent accusations that Obama is in bed with BP (those BP donations were actually all from employees, but we know Palin doesn’t vet or research before she accuses or endorses, hello speech stealer) is simply indicative of the tendency for Palin to confess via accusation.
The AP story is a must read for anyone interested in just how deeply Sarah Palin was “in bed with big oil”. I mean, aside from literally sleeping with Todd Palin, himself a producer and unregistered lobbyist. Alaskans have some very interesting stories about Todd Palin’s role in all of this, but until that story comes out, the question that can and should be asked now is why is the media allowing Palin to get away with such blatant manipulation and avoidance of transparency?
Why are these emails just being released now? They were requested in 2008 — back when Sarah Palin was running for the second highest office in the land, and the people in the lower 48 knew nothing about her. This is called transparency blocking and it is not an American value. Not even in Real America.
The Alaska Public Records Law (APRA) is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Alaska. “Statutes 40.25.100 – 40.25.125 of the Alaska legislature define the law. As recently as 2003, the Alaskan Supreme Court said that access to public records is “a fundamental right” (see Fuller v. City of Homer). In January of 2009, the Alaska Democratic Party said the state’s repeated delays in providing public records it has asked for involving then Gov Palin were “excessive and unwarranted.” The state notified the Democrats … that it would likely need until the end of March if not longer to provide records first requested more than four months ago, on Sept. 22, during the heat of the presidential campaign when Palin was the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate.”
But apparently the state needed longer than that.
And this wasn’t a one-off or even a three-off problem, it was a predictable trend. After having a request for over 1,000 emails denied by the Palin administration that cited “executive privilege”, Andree McLeod (Republican who filed several of the ethics complaints against Palin) sued for access to the emails. In October of 2008, the Anchorage Superior Court ordered the Palin administration to preserve all emails dating back to December 4, 2006. They were also ordered to retrieve emails and attachments from Yahoo and other private emails accounts that were used to conduct state business. Palin had two accounts with Yahoo and at least one other private account. We still don’t know if these records were in fact saved as ordered.
Back to the AP emails:
“The AP requested different groups of e-mails, including from June 1, 2007, and Dec. 1, 2007, to cover the submission period for companies vying for the pipeline contract. Only one, dated Nov. 30, 2007, was apparently included. Public records officer Linda Perez said she would look into why other e-mails weren’t included.
E-mails released run into late 2008.
The governor’s office also released a 72-page log detailing e-mails it was withholding for what it described as reasons including attorney-client or executive privilege. Subject lines on those e-mails included “Messaging/Strategy,” “Myth Busting,” and “Bad News.””
So, after a year and half, we are supposed to believe the administration just left out the emails from June 07-Dec 07 during the submission period. They’re going to “look into” why they weren’t included. No reason was given, apparently, but we were treated to a reason for the redaction of other emails. Apparently in this new “democracy”, “messaging” and “myth busting” are now protected by executive privilege. I know, you thought that was only for Dick Cheney. Palin and Dick have never seen an obstruction to transparency they didn’t embrace. Information is not for the people. The rabble.
In case you were wondering, the Alaska Public Records Act states no specific time for completing FOIA requests but states they will be completed: “….’as soon as practicable’ but no later than the tenth working day after receiving a proper request”. Tenth working DAY. Not month or year. DAY. The Palin administration is either exceptionally incompetent or they are deliberately obstructing the very law that protects citizens via transparency. Or they are both incompetent and obstructionist.
The thing about a Presidential run is that the media will have time to vet Sarah, and you can bet Mitt Romney has the goods on her, as many of the McCain people are with Romney now. They know where the bodies are buried. Sarah can run. But she can’t hide. Even behind that fence.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.