From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –
Sean Parnell’s role as a faithful Sarah Palin loyalist is underscored in the Palin emails released last week, which show him feeding her information about a critic, praying for her and defending the oil tax increase he’s now trying to roll back.
Parnell, now Alaska’s governor, was always publicly supportive of Palin when he was her lieutenant governor. The released Palin emails only reinforce that, showing him supporting her behind the scenes, and checking with her before he made speeches. Like all lieutenant governors, he was eager to be included as a part of the governor’s decision-making.
On the evening of Aug. 29, 2007 Palin sent Parnell an email with the subject line “Pray for wisdom…”
“For us, for the team... And may God's will be done with His resources,” Palin emailed from her blackberry.
Parnell emailed her back 10 minutes later.
“I just pulled into my driveway after having prayed for wisdom for you in this . Thankful we serve the same Creator. Also, thank you for including me in the discussion. It meant a lot to be able to participate.”
The email string doesn’t say what issue they were discussing. But the next day Palin announced the beleaguered state-owned Matanuska Maid dairy would be offered for sale after losing nearly $300,000 the previous month. Palin had acted earlier in the summer to stop the creamery board from selling the operation, citing concerns for what that would do to dairy farmers.
In February 2008, Parnell emailed Palin information about Andrew Halcro, who on his blog had been sharply critical of Palin about the Mat-Maid issue, oil taxes, and other subjects.
“I don 't know how I missed it but I'm told Halcro's brother-in-law is this high ranking exec at BP (thought you might like to know how he must get some of his information),” Parnell wrote her.
Palin was already aware of the connection, but wrote to her staffers that the fact Parnell didn’t know earlier was a sign the information needed be more broadly disseminated.
“Blogs, Ear, the works…Gotta spread the news (But keep Lt.Governor’s name out…He wouldn’t want connection.”)
Nine days later Parnell emailed Palin and wrote “the Ear today reported on Halcro's brother in law at BP. That didn't come from me or anyone that I know of though I'm not too sad it’s out there.”
Parnell emailed Palin in March 2007 to report that in the Seattle airport he’d run into Justin Stiefel, a Washington D.C. lobbyist and former top aide to Sen. Ted Stevens. “When we got to the discussion on Sen. Stevens, Justin indicated that the Senator was entirely focused on re-election, that he was concerned about you running against him… I told him that those were outlandish theories!!,” Parnell wrote in the email to Palin.
Parnell backed Palin’s push in the fall of 2007 to increase taxes on the oil industry by installing a new taxation system called Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share, or ACES.
The emails show Parnell stepping forward to defend ACES after it was passed. He sent Palin an email in December of 2007 with the subject line “ACES and continuing investment.”
“Just saw in today's paper that Conoco announced plans to spend 1 billion dollars on exploration and production in Alaska, nearly 22 percent more than the amount the company budgeted for Alaska investment in 2007. The week following ACES' passage Chevron announced an increase in capital spending for both new North Slope and Cook Inlet work,” he wrote.
The rest of the email is blacked out, with the reason given that it is “privileged or personal material.”
A month later Parnell emailed Palin before he gave a speech at the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. The subject line was "ACES".
Parnell noted that the Daily News had an article about how BP was cutting spending in Alaska and asked whether the announcement that Eni had decided to develop the Nikaitchuq field had been made public. “Obviously I won’t talk about it in the FAI Chamber speech unless it’s announced,” he said.
A staffer told Palin that he'd let Parnell know the announcement of Eni's investment had been made, presumably so the lieutenant governor could use it in his speech to demonstrate that companies were still investing after ACES.
Parnell continued to mostly support ACES up until last year, when he said he’d become convinced that it took too much from the companies when oil prices are high and was damaging to the economy.
Rolling it back is now a top priority for him.
Parnell has said his change of view came when his own research led him to believe there was credence in the companies’ complaints that there’s not enough incentive to invest in the state when oil prices are high, as Alaska’s tax structure takes a much bigger bite out of the companies’ profits when prices are high.