Alaska Politics Blog

This is the place to talk about Alaska politics, state, local, national. Public life in the Last Frontier has rarely been more interesting -- a full slate of federal and state elections, the influence of former Gov. Sarah Palin, the usual hardball Alaska politics. Come here for news, tidbits and information, and join the discussion. We encourage lively debate, but please keep it civil and stay on point. Don't use profanity, make crude comments or attack other posters. Posts that violate the Terms of Use will be deleted. Repeat offenders will lose their ability to post comments.

New Senate organization announced - 11/7/2012 12:48 pm

Homer Revealed - 8/22/2012 2:08 pm

Seven-day countdown - 5/25/2012 8:37 pm

Anchorage city clerk resigns (UPDATED) - 5/23/2012 10:51 am

Gara to seek re-election - 5/2/2012 2:04 pm

For one lawmaker: Good news - 4/27/2012 12:20 pm

Anticipation in the Capitol - 4/26/2012 11:38 am

Election Commission finds 1/2 of precincts ran out of ballots; recommends no investigation - 4/25/2012 5:08 pm

House rejects special session

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Speaker Mike Chenault said today there’s not enough support in the state House for a special session to keep the coastal zone management program alive for another year.

“As it stands now, with the one-year offer from the Senate, not enough members support the call to return to Juneau,” the Nikiski Republican said in a prepared statement. “We want to keep moving forward in negotiations not starting back at zero, which is what this one-year extension would do.”

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Senate wants special session

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage --

The Alaska Senate is calling for a special session to keep the state’s coastal zone management program from dissolving on June 30. But it’s not clear whether the House will go along.

Two-thirds of the legislators must agree before the Legislature can call itself into special session. Senate President Gary Stevens said Friday there’s enough support in the 16-member Senate to call a special session in order to extend the life of the embattled program for up to one year.

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How rich is the Alaska congressional delegation?

From Erika Bolstad in Washington D.C. --

Financial disclosure forms made public Wednesday show that Alaska's congressional delegation has a wide range of investments in land, real estate and stocks.

The forms, released annually, are meant to allow the public a glimpse at the investments, personal wealth and potential conflicts of interest of those who represent them in Congress. Candidates must also file them.

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Emails underscore Parnell's loyalty to Palin

Sean Parnell was sworn in as Alaska's 10th governor in Fairbanks on July 26, 2009, after Gov. Sarah Palin's resignation. (Bill Roth/ADN)Sean Parnell was sworn in as Alaska's 10th governor in Fairbanks on July 26, 2009, after Gov. Sarah Palin's resignation. (Bill Roth/ADN)

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.

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Kay Brown will lead Alaska Democrats

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Kay Brown, a former legislator with three decades of political experience, is taking the job of executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party.

Brown comes to the position at a time when the party is facing the big challenge of a proposed redistricting plan that pits some Democratic legislators against one another and puts others into new districts that include more Republican voters.

Brown has most recently been project manager for Alaskans for Fair Redistricting, an advocacy group that includes unions and Native Corporations.

She was in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1986 to 1996 and remained involved in politics through various roles since.

That includes a nearly four-year stint as communications director for the Alaska Democratic Party until 2009, when she left to join Bob Poe’s campaign for governor.

“New adventures ahead for me. I’ll be starting work July 5 as Executive Director of the Alaska Democratic Party,” Brown wrote on her Facebook page.

She replaces Deborah Williams, who is leaving the position after about two years.

Williams told the Associated press that she’s leaving for personal and family reasons. “I tried. I tried really, really hard to do it all,” Williams said. “The party needs someone who can give 150 percent,” and she said she wasn’t able to do that right now.

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Read the Palin emails

Here are all of the state government emails of former Gov. Sarah Palin that were released on Friday by the state of Alaska. The state released them as more than 24,000 pages of paper; we've scanned them into a series of searchable PDFs in roughly chronological order. They are big files - up to 30MB - so may take some time to download.

We've put together a guide to some of the people in and out of the Palin administration who are mentioned.

As you read them, we're interested in hearing what you think is interesting or newsworthy. Email us at emails@adn.com with the details.

(The New York Times and msnbc.com have also made the emails available on their websites in somewhat different form.)

Dec 6, 2006 - April 17, 2007

April 17 - May 30, 2007

May 30 - July 3, 2007

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The emails: A guide to who's who

If you're reading through the Palin emails, here are some of the key figures during her administration. Wondering about others? Email us at emails@adn.com with the details.

> Kris Perry: Palin adviser from Wasilla, played a key role in her 2006 campaign for governor and was director of governor’s office in Anchorage under Palin. Traveled with Palin during 2008 vice presidential campaign.

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Palin emails released (With updates through the day)

(AP/Brian Wallace)(AP/Brian Wallace)

NOTE: We've posted the entire volume of 24,199 emails that Sarah Palin sent or received as governor in a series of large, downloadable files you can read here. The New York Times and msnbc.com have also made the emails available on their websites.

The state released the emails today as printed pages. The records begin when Palin took office in December 2006 and run through the fall of 2008, when she was a candidate for vice president (and media organizations requested them).

We've posted a who's who in the emails and want to hear what you're finding interesting. Email us at emails@adn.com with the details.

Daily News reporters reviewed a sampling of the emails throughout the day. Our notes:


Sarah, it's Lance

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage, 11:30 a.m., Saturday --

From: Lance Mackey
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 7:59 PM
To: Governor Sarah Palin
Subject: RE: Other
Iditarod is closing in and still wondering if you are interested in riding my 2nd sled out of Anchorage?
The other option is an Iditarider which rides in the sled but is chosen by the highest bidder.all proceeds go to Iditarod. Please let us know ASAP and we can get into specifics or I can choose some one other than yourself If you are unable.
Lance

From: Governor Sarah Palin (GOV sponsored)
Sent: Friday, January 11, 2008 6:11 AM
To: Lance Mackey
Subject: RE: Other
Thank you for writing to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The concerns, opinions, and/or information you have sent are important and valuable to the Governor. Although she is unable to respond to each and every email herself, your message has been received and is being reviewed by the appropriate staff person in this office who can best address your need, suggestion, or comment.


"Play Tina Fey"

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage, 6:45 p.m. --

Pat Galvin to Palin on Sept. 16: Subject: "Tina Fey."

"My suggestion is you offer to go on SNL and play Tina Fey, and you interview her as she plays you," Galvin says. This advice seems unsolicited.


Haters and well-wishers

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage, 6:45 p.m. --

I've been going through the very last emails of the bunch, from the fall of 2008. This is post-fame Palin, and the messages reveal a little about what life was like in the governor's office after Palin had become a political rock star.

Haters and well-wishers e-mailed the official governor's account, seemingly in equal measure. Some called for Palin to be shot from a plane like an Alaska wolf. A Juneau woman decried the first dude's increasing role in state government. Others asked Palin to support charity runs or hold fund-raisers in their home states.

-- On Sept. 20, someone claiming to be a Wikipedia editor asked for a high-quality photo of Palin. The governor's office turned him down. "Any request that is any way campaign or partisan-related must be directed to the appropriate campaign," wrote communications director Kate Morgan.

-- On Sept. 17, Mike Nizich e-mailed to say that Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil, hoped to met Palin the following month in Dallas.

-- On Sept. 15, a woman from Utah writes to say that she's an old aquaintance. Their kids used to go to elementary school together at Iditarod Elementary. Plus, like Track, her son is in the military. The woman's 17-year-old daughter "finds herself in the same predicament as Bristol."

"I hope you don’t mind if I feel I can (identify) with you in some small way," she writes.

-- On Sept. 15, Pat Galvin writes that the national media have suddenly discovered AGIA "and they WANT it to be wrong somehow."

"First, the New York Times wrote that the gasline is no sure thing, quoting Bert and Lyda as recent converts against it ("We're shocked that TC demands $500 million from the statel"), acting as if you had said the gas was practically flowing right now. Recently, we hear that a Newsweek reporter wants to "blow the lid" oli' the real story that everybody knows we'll never get through Canada, and AGIA was all a ruse to get you to the White House."

"Holy cow," Palin replies the next morning. "Thank you guys for continuing to get the truth out! And Meg can help."

-- On Sept. 12, Barbara Dewberry of Dallas, Texas, writes that she was visiting Alaska and overheard Jay Ramras talking about Palin at the Snow City Cafe. "We said hello and asked if you were in town and that we loved you - wanted you to come to TX. He said you were not
smart and were dangerous."


What's NOT being released

From David Hulen in Anchorage, 1:25 p.m. --

Hundreds of Palin emails are not being released, with various reasons cited by the state. Here are spreadsheets of what were withheld or redacted posted by msnbc.com. It's a big file.


Palin on Don Young: "I don't want to get chewed out by him yet again again"

From Richard Mauer in Anchorage, 12:20 pm. --

Here's an email that touches on Sarah Palin's difficult relationship with Rep. Don Young and her apparent weakness in dealing with him.

On Sept. 16, 2008, about three weeks after she was selected as John McCain's running mate. Chief of staff Mike Nizich tells Palin that Young wants a call from her. Palin responds: "Pls find out what it's about. I don't want to get chewed out by him yet again again, I'm not up for that."


Ghost-writing letter to editor

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchroage, 11:35 a.m. --

In another example Palin’s effort to counter-punch criticism in the media, she ghost-wrote a letter to the editor – quoting herself – that would reply to a complaint that Palin had failed to appear at the 2008 Miss Alaska pageant.

In the July 26th, 2008 note to Frank Bailey, Kris Perry and Rosanne Hughes, Palin drafted a letter to the paper and asks her aides to find someone to send it to the Daily News under his or her name:

Palin writes:

“I’m looking for someone to correct the letter writer’s goofy comments, but don’t want the letter to ADN in response to come from me.”

Palin then provides her aides a draft of the letter:

“Dear Editor: To address Judi Spry’s Anchorage Daily News letter-to the editor on July 26 asking where the governor was during this year’s Miss Alaska Pageant:
First, when I asked Gov. Palin if she was ever Miss Alaska (as Ms. Spry stated), our Governor replied, “Nope, a mere “Miss Congeniality”, one of the runner-up sashes, and much-needed college scholarships were my wins as a participant in that scholarship program, about 100 years ago it seems now.’”

Palin tells her staff she wants the letter to argue that she didn’t blow off the pageant because of a “lack of support” for the event, but in order to keep a commitment to travel to Fairbanks to meet with U.S. Congressmen who were touring ANWR.

Palin aide Ivy Frye replied to the e-mail later that day, suggesting Palin friend Kristan Cole could send the letter.

“Kristan Cole would be perfect as she knows the pageant world but also she knows how busy you and Todd are. I’ll touch base w her today, and Frank too to make sure we’re sending variations and not duplicates of this letter,” Frye wrote.

“Also, we’re rallying the troops re: letters for dps and agia. Phil Schneider’s should run this wkend,” Frye added.

A few days later, on Aug. 2, a letter appeared in the paper attributed to Hughes, Palin's director of "external communications." It paraphrased some of the same points that Palin made in her e-mail, but did not include the quote.


Palin on blog commenter: "Our security guys should check into her..."

From Sean Cockerham in Juneau, 11:10 a.m. --

Palin seemed to be particularly sensitive to the comments posted on the Anchorage Daily News politics blog, at one point asking that her security team check out one of the most critical commentators.

Palin wrote her staff on July 9, 2008 about comments posted on the ADN by Sherry Whitstine of Wasilla.

“I think our security guys should check into her because the times she’s blogged about Todd’s schedule and what we drive have really infringed on our privacy rights and potential safety when psychos know when Todd’s out of town,” she wrote.


Where to read the emails as they're posted

From David Hulen in Anchorage, 10:30 a.m. --

In addition to the links I posted earlier below, msnbc,.com now has a searchable archive of 500+ pages (out of 24,199) up online.

The Washington Post has posted a searchable PDF of roughly the first two months of Palin's governorship - December 2006 through most of February 2007.

Again, we want to hear from you about you're finding interesting as you read through these. Email us at emails@adn.com with the details.


"Now. About the blogs..."

From Sean Cockerham in Juneau, 10: 20 a.m. –

The emails show Palin and her team obsessive about countering criticism of the governor. One example, from April 24, 2008, is an email from Palin communications director Roseanne Hughes to the top members of the governor’s staff.

“Now. About the blogs. As you know, our boss is getting pounded. Let’s take action. TODAY.

Frank and Ivy, if you could get the word out to your contacts – grassroots supporters who love our boss – we need to get them out there FLOODING that Anchorage Daily News Alaska politics blog. I mean FLOODING.

She then offered ideas of what people could say, including “Quoting Newt Gingrich that Governor Palin is one of the most aggressive reformers in the country.”'


Per diem

From Sean Cockerham in Juneau 10:10 a.m. --

Another email string shows Palin chief of staff Mike Nizich giving Palin advice in how to handle the issue of her taking state per diem for nights she spent in her own home.

This email, sent to a personal account of sp@hslak, was from Sept. 11, 2008, as Palin was running for vice president.

It includes talking points like “State of Alaska rented an apartment in Anchorage for Governor Murkowski” and “Governor Murkowski’s travel in 2006 totaled $525,392.”

It also said that Palin prefers to driver herself, “no chauffeur” and that Palin does not travel with an entourage.

“Just some info we have used to counter comments on the per diem issue,” he wrote to Palin.


Tell us what you're finding in the emails

From David Hulen in Anchorage, 10:05 a.m. --

It looks like the New York Times has a partial easily searchable archive of emails up online now. it covers nine days, with new material being added. The Huffington Post also has some emails posted.

Readers: As you're going through the documents, we want to hear what you're finding interesting or newsworthy. Email us at emails@adn.com with as many specifics as possible.

A list of the emails withheld from release has been scanned and posted by msnbc.com. It's a big pdf.


"This is of course ridiculous."

From Sean Cockerham in Juneau, 9:50 a.m. --

I’ve just started going through the 24,199 pages of Sarah Palin’s emails. One, from July 3, 2008, has Palin expressing incredulity that the Daily News is working on a story about the state paying for her daughter, Piper, to come with her to an event in Barrow,

“Huh? Is he writing a story on the First Family’s invitation to attend a native celebration? The state bought one, one-way ticket for only one other member of the First Family (only the return flt,) as not all 7 of us attended of course.

…And we didnt even spend the night so no hotel! And my travel is ¼ what Murk’s was, despite having a large family that’s always invited to all these Alaskan first family events,” Palin wrote her top staffers from her gov.sarah@yahoo.com private email account.

Someone with the email account ftb907@yahoo.com wrote back (might be Palin aide Frank Bailey) Comparing Murki’s travel is key here.

“Also I bet Kris could get Mayor Itta or someone to indicate the desire and/or specific request from the community of Barrow for the whole family This is of course ridiculous. The community of Barrow was elated that you and Piper visited,” the person wrote.


"The emails detail a Governor hard at work. Everyone should read them."
Update, 9: 05 a.m.:

This from the Palin camp:

Statement on email release by Tim Crawford, Sarah PAC Treasurer.

"The thousands upon thousands of emails released today 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."


Released

From Sean Cockerham in Juneau, 9:02 a.m. --

We picked up our set of the documents and are headed to the airport. The whole things seems to be going off without a hitch so far.


(ADN/Sean Cockerham)(ADN/Sean Cockerham)

(ADN/Sean Cockerham)(ADN/Sean Cockerham)


Palin emails to be released this morning

Original post:

From Sean Cockerham in Juneau, 7:19 a.m. --

In less than two hours the state will be handing over 24,199 printed pages of emails that Sarah Palin sent or received as governor, a massive trove that has the potential to give insight into how she governed Alaska before vaulting to celebrity.

I’m in Juneau to pick up the boxes of emails being released under public records requests made by more than a dozen media outlets, including the ADN. The document release has attracted intense media attention, with network television crews and reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and other outlets descending on Juneau to pick up their boxes.

Media organizations are recruiting volunteers from the public to help them sort through the enormous stack of emails, and going to convoluted lengths to figure out how to get them all scanned and posted up on their websites ASAP.

We're inviting readers to share what they're finding newsworthy or interesting (or not) as they read the documents later today. Let us know what you're seeing that's interesting at emails@adn.com

It’s not clear just what all this effort is going to reveal. The emails being released cover from when Palin took office at the end of 2006 until the end of September 2008, the heat of the vice presidential campaign. What they don’t cover are the tumultuous final months of Palin’s term, when she returned to Alaska after the McCain-Palin loss until her abrupt resignation in July 2009.

Other records requests have been filed for those emails, the state isn’t saying when they’ll be released.

The state is withholding more than 2,000 pages of Palin’s 2006-2008 emails, having deemed them private, personal or otherwise exempt from Alaska’s public disclosure law. The state’s lawyers made recommendations for what to withhold and the final decision was made by the governor’s office, which includes holdovers from the Palin administration. A set of the emails to be released was also previously sent for review to Palin’s lawyer, John Tiemessen of Fairbanks. The state says the Palin team made no requests to redact or withhold any of those records.

It’s also questionable if the state even has all of Palin’s emails. Palin did state business using her private yahoo account. The state has sought to retrieve those records, but it’s not clear how many of them remain outside of the public’s view.

But with Palin coming off her East Coast bus tour and flirting with the idea of running for president, the interest is enormous in whatever she had to say. For Alaskans, the release also has the potential of giving insight into how their governor and state government did the public’s work.

Our plan is to get our six boxes of emails as soon as they are released and use a hand truck to bring them to the Juneau airport. I’ll start going through them while waiting for the next flight to Anchorage, scheduled to leave at 12:20 p.m.

I’ll try to blog and post photos of what I see, although I’ll only be able to get a taste of what’s in the emails before we need to check the boxes for the flight to Anchorage. Once in Anchorage, though, the plan is to have a local document firm scan them into electronic form so we can post them for the public on adn.com starting later in the afternoon.

We plan to by Saturday have them up in searchable form, allowing readers to narrow their look at the huge email archive into topics, whether they’re interested in how Palin dealt with the oil companies, or what she had to say about specific issues or people during her time as governor.

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The Palin emails

From David Hulen, ADN state/local news editor –

On Friday morning, thousands of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s official state emails will be released by the State of Alaska.

The documents, 24,199 pages in six boxes, will be released at the governor’s office in Juneau to media organizations that requested them under Alaska public-records laws. The organizations are each paying the $725.97 copying fee charged by the state. We think 16 or 17 organizations will be receiving the documents; we've been having trouble getting an exact number from the governor's office. The ADN is among those that requested them.

Here's our plan: We will be picking up the documents when they're made available at 9 a.m. in Juneau and flying them back to Anchorage. We are sharing our documents with ABC News and KTUU-Channel 2. The plan is to take them to a legal-document service in Anchorage to be scanned and converted into digital files. By late afternoon, we should have the emails on a set of fairly large, non-searchable PDFs that we’ll post here on our Alaska Politics blog. We expect the documents will be converted to searchable PDFs later in the evening (the process of making them searchable takes quite a bit longer). We’ll post those as soon as we have them.

It's our understanding the emails will be more or less chronological and numbered sequentially.

We’ll be reading through the documents starting Friday morning and will be looking for news or context that has meaning to Alaska readers. We expect to be posting updates as we go through them, with additional coverage, as warranted, at adn.com and in the print newspaper. We really don’t know what will be there and how significant the information will be. Palin told Fox News over the weekend, “You know, I think every rock in the Palin household that could ever be kicked over and uncovered anything, it's already been kicked over.”

We’re inviting interested readers, expecially those in Alaska, to help. There’s a lot of material here. So we’d like to hear from you about what you think is newsworthy and interesting. Please cite the page number and as many specifics as possible. E-mail to emails@adn.com

Others plan to make the material available as well, although how quickly the mass of paper and be scanned and put online in a usable form remains to be seen.

Among the others posting the documents will be msnbc.com, which will be working with the company Crivella West, to host a searchable database of the emails. The company created a similar, smaller archive when 2,000 state emails involving Todd Palin were released last year under a public-records request.

The New York Times will be posting documents from Juneau and is asking readers for help , as is the Washington Post’s The Fix blog.


Palin liked to use email when she governor, and was frequently seen with two Blackberrys. Here's a video shot by our Kyle Hopkins in June 2008 at Congregation Beth Shalom in Anchorage, where she signed a bill into law outlawing texting while driving. The man is Rep. Max Gruenberg. Kyle asked the governor if she ever texted while behind the wheel.

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Palin emails to be released Friday (Updated)

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage --

4:21 p.m. update -- It looks like Juneau Sen. Dennis Egan has managed to get the state to make public review copies of Sarah Palin's emails available in Anchorage and Fairbanks after all.

Egan wrote Parnell Chief of Staff Mike Nizich this afternoon protesting the decision to have the emails only available in Juneau.

"I don’t understand why these electronic records are being put out on paper, but if that’s how it has to be, moving paper is easy. I appreciate that the governor’s office will have a public review copy here in the Capitol. I’m requesting that you print and deliver the same material to the Anchorage and Fairbanks offices of the governor for public review," Egan wrote.

Egan said he'd reimburse the governor's office for the cost of doing so.

Egan told me that Nizich called him in response and agreed he would make the emails available in Anchorage and Fairbanks. I've asked the governor's office when that will happen.

(Update -- Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow just told me that the state won't be making copies available at the governor's offices in Anchorage and Fairbanks. She said officials will likely next week ship copies to the legislative offices of Egan and Anchorage Democratic Reps. Mike Doogan and Berta Gardner, who had requested a set of the emails.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Original post -- The state will release 24,199 pages of Sarah Palin’s emails at 9 a.m. on Friday in Juneau. That amounts to six boxes of correspondence covering most of Palin’s term as Alaska's governor.

A full list of all those who’ve requested copies of the Palin emails wasn’t immediately available from the state today. But it includes the ADN, msnbc.com, Associated Press, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and CNN.

The state is releasing the emails in paper form after redacting portions of them. But msnbc.com plans to put them online.

“Soon after the emails are released, msnbc.com plans to scan them in and put them online in a public archive, restoring the electronic records to electronic form. This archive will be co-sponsored by Mother Jones magazine, which also requested the documents back in 2008, and with Pro Publica, the nonprofit investigative newsroom, just as msnbc.com did with a batch of Todd Palin emails last year,” Bill Dedman of msnbc.com wrote in a story that was posted today.

Those who requested the emails can either pick up their copies in Juneau on Friday or have them shipped out then (except for three requestors who asked for them too late and will have to wait until Monday.)

The state is charging $725.97 in copying fees to everyone who requested the documents, plus shipping costs.

The process of copying the emails at a commercial printer started on Friday and was supposed to take four days. But it's taking longer because the number of news organizations and individuals requesting them doubled from 10 to 20 over the past week after news coverage of the pending records release.

The emails cover most of Palin’s time as Alaska governor, from when she took office at the beginning of 2007 through Sept. 30, 2008, shortly after John McCain selected her to be his running mate.

Palin resigned from the governor’s office on July 26, 2009.

Palin said on Fox News Sunday that she’s not worried about the release of the emails. She said “every rock” that could have been kicked over to uncover things about her has been.

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State says no public review of Palin emails in Anchorage (updated)

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Andree McLeod wants the state to make Sarah Palin’s emails available for public review in Anchorage, instead of forcing her and others who requested them to pay more than $1,000 in fees for the state to make paper copies and ship them from Juneau

But the state says forget it.

“If you want to receive the records in Anchorage, you will need to pay the duplication fee of $725.97 and the shipping costs. I understand that WPX courier will deliver the set of 5 boxes to Anchorage overnight for $543.73 or a 2nd day delivery for $443.73,” Gov. Sean Parnell’s administrative director, Linda Perez, wrote to McLeod in response to her request.

Perez said McLeod, who lives in Anchorage, needs to come to Juneau if she wants to review them for free.

“The records are not available at either the Anchorage Governor's Office or the Department of Law in Anchorage. Picking up the records from either Anchorage location would require the same duplication and shipping fee payment,” Perez wrote to McLeod Wednesday.

McLeod wrote to Parnell late Thursday afternoon to protest. “You have transferred more positions from Juneau to Anchorage than other governors, not counting Sarah. For all intent and purposes, you occupy the Anchorage office as much as the Juneau one... Am I to understand that when it's convenient for you and your staff, the Anchorage office becomes a viable extension of your Juneau office, except when it serves the public re: the review of these emails as stated in the Public Records Act?” she wrote.

(Friday 5:30 p.m. update -- McLeod hasn't received a response from the Parnell administration a day after sending it.)

McLeod, along with several media organizations including the Daily News, has requested copies of emails Sarah Palin sent and received as governor. The state says it is about to release 24,199 pages of Palin's emails through Sept. 30, 2008, but is refusing to make them available in electronic form.

State lawyers printed them out and redacted information considered privileged. Now the state plans to make copies at a commercial printer and ship them out to those who pay the fee.

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Legislators buying tickets for special session next week

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Leaders of the Alaska House and Senate are telling their members to go ahead and book tickets to Juneau for a special session on coastal zone management to start Tuesday.

The special session is still being described as “tentatively” scheduled and the Senate leadership won't be giving its members a final answer until Sunday on whether it’s happening.

But it’s a done enough deal that the legislative accounting office has given lawmakers authorization to go ahead and buy “full flex” tickets.

The tentative plan is to start the session at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and lawmakers hope to wrap it up in a day or so after cutting a deal on what the coastal management bill looks like.

Click here for our story on what the special session is all about.

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Murkowski votes against House GOP budget plan

From Erika Bolstad in Washington D.C. –

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined four other GOP senators in voting against the budget passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives. The budget has stirred public opinion for its dramatic reshaping of Medicare.

Murkowski instead voted for an alternative budget proposal by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., and earlier this week, introduced her own bill that would address some Medicare spending issues.

Although she voted against the House GOP proposal, Murkowski complained that Senate Democrats had failed to come up with their own plan.

"What also stood out to me today was what we didn’t vote on – any type of solution put forward by my Senate colleagues across the aisle," she said. "It’s reckless that as the country falls deeper into debt they haven’t submitted a budget of their own in over two years."

She was joined in her vote against the House GOP budget by Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also voted against the House budget, but because he said it didn't make enough cuts. It failed 57 to 40, with 60 votes needed to bring it up for debate.

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Results of poll on special session expected today

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

House Speaker Mike Chenault’s office said it hopes to know by the end of the day if there’s enough support among House members for a special session on coastal zone management.

Both the House and Senate have been polling their members to gauge interest. Senate President Gary Stevens is having knee surgery today, and some senators are traveling, so the Senate doesn’t expect to have the results of its poll until tomorrow.

But if the House agrees to a special session the Senate is likely to go along, as there’s more interest among senators in the issue.

The Legislature needs two-thirds support of its members to call itself into a special session. Legislators said they might go into special session as early as next week if there’s enough support.

The state’s coastal zone management program expires next month if nothing is done.

Supporters of the program say it’s needed to influence federal development decisions and to give local communities input on development issues. The state would also lose $2.5 million in federal grant funds if the program is allowed to expire.

The Legislature failed to come up with a compromise on the issue in its previous special session that ended earlier this month.

The House voted down a proposed deal in part because of concerns about how much emphasis “local knowledge” was being given in an advisory board that would review coastal management issues.

The House and Gov. Sean Parnell also wanted the governor to be able to remove a board member at any time, rather than having to show cause.

The role of the board has been a hugely contentious issue in the Legislature, with Arctic coastal communities wanting a greater voice on offshore oil development in their areas and the oil and gas and mining industries wary of it being a hurdle for projects.

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Legislators can turn down extra money

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage --

Alaska legislators will be allowed to turn down what’s been characterized as a backdoor pay raise they gave themselves this year. It remains to be seen how many will choose not to take the money.

The Legislative Council agreed today to let lawmakers opt out at the request of Chugiak Republican Rep. Bill Stoltze, who said he thought it was inappropriate for legislators to vote to double their state-paid “office allowance” that they are allowed to spend on whatever they want.

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Don Young: AGIA is a failure and don't text

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Congressman Don Young says Alaskans should forget about the state-funded TransCanada project for a natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48.

“We know AGIA is not going be built. We know that because the market’s not there. You just saw Denali (pipeline project) pull out yesterday,’ Young told Commonwealth North in Anchorage Wednesday.

“The market’s not there. Not when you can get gas for $4.64 and it costs ten dollars for us to produce it here. It’s not going to happen,” he said.

Young said there has to be some kind of in-state gas pipeline.

“We need a gasline, let’s not kid ourselves. I’m not going to say whether it should be a bullet line because that is very expensive gas,” Young said. “But it should be delivered through the state for the people of the state and to tidewater so we can ship it, I call it the floating pipeline."

Young was in blustery, jocular form. Among other things, he lamented that people don’t read anymore and spend too much time texting.

“And by the way, all of you who are texting, it’s public information. Just think about that. I’m the smartest congressman in Congress. I’ve never turned a computer on, never turned one off. And I tell you what, they better not call this phone, I’ll call out.”

“That’s why I’m the smartest congressman in Congress. Because everybody else knows what everybody else is doing. I mention Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor Spitzer...right down the line.”

Young also addressed the topic of climate change.

"By the way I love Iceland, they produce more aluminum now than any area in the United States. But I also like one other thing."

"Hillary Clinton went up there the other day to have a summit meeting on climate change. They don’t really like us in Iceland. They like, in fact, the warmer climate. They’re growing gardens. The cod are bigger. Hallelujah! Nothing grows in ice, ladies and gentleman. Where Al Gore ever got that, he must have been smoking something besides Camels.”

“Nothing grows in ice. And there is a changing climate, I’m not going to deny that. It’s been happening eleven times, it will happen again. Yet we have this idea that it’s your fault and you’re fault and you’re fault. That’s nonsense. It’s not your fault. This is going to happen regardless. And let’s accept that fact so we can adapt to how the world is changing. We’ll have a Northwest Passage and I’m extremely excited about it.”

(It's not clear exactly what Hillary Clinton trip that Young was talking about. Clinton did go to Greenland earlier this month for a meeting of the Arctic Council, a group that includes Iceland.)

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Obama nominates Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen to 9th Circuit

Justice Morgan Christen as the Alaska Supreme Court heard arguments over the contested U.S. Senate race in Alaska in December. (ADN/Erik Hill)Justice Morgan Christen as the Alaska Supreme Court heard arguments over the contested U.S. Senate race in Alaska in December. (ADN/Erik Hill)

From Erika Bolstad in Washington D.C. –

The White House announced Wednesday evening that President Barack Obama is nominating Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

"I am proud to nominate this outstanding candidate to serve on the United States Court of Appeals," Obama said in a statement. "I am confident Justice Morgan Christen will serve the American people with integrity and distinction."

Christen, who served as an Anchorage Superior Court Judge for seven years, was appointed in 2009 to the Alaska Supreme Court by then-Gov. Sarah Palin.

Christen's 2009 appointment forced a difficult choice on Palin, who was required by the state Constitution to select from among the nominees sent to her by the seven-member Alaska Judicial Council. That council is made up of lawyers, public members appointed by governors and the state Supreme Court chief justice.
Palin took the unusual step of asking the Judicial Council to send her all information it had on the two finalists, Christen and another judge, Eric Smith.

The head of the Alaska Family Council -- a Christian pro-family, anti-abortion group -- urged Palin to pick Smith, not Christen. The group objected to Christen's membership on the board of Planned Parenthood in the mid-1990s. The organization, which didn't provide abortions in Alaska until 2003, opposed a Palin-backed bill to require girls under 17 to get parental consent for an abortion.

But Smith also proved a difficult choice for Palin for his role in the 1980s as executive director of the public interest environmental law firm, Trustees for Alaska.

Both of Alaska's senators said they'd confirm Christen when her nomination comes before the U.S. Senate for a vote.

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Frank Murkowski's message from his yacht

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage --

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski weighed in today with an emailed statement about BP and Conoco's decision to drop its "Denali" pipeline project.

Murkowski's statement said it was sent from “Aboard the First Lady, en route to Wrangell.”

Murkowski has a 53-foot Southern Cross-style yacht named the First Lady (he parked it at the state dock in Juneau back when he was the governor.)

The former governor’s statement from sea said it was a foregone conclusion that the Denali project was doomed as natural gas prices dropped.

He said the Legislature should have agreed to his proposed gasline deal in 2006, before the economics went bad.

Legislators said that Murkowski’s deal gave away too much to the oil and gas companies. So did Sarah Palin, who made it a central theme when she defeated him in the 2006 Republican primary for governor, and then pushed through her AGIA bill.

“Unfortunately, the actions of the Palin administration in its gas line efforts displayed a measure of ineptness which will likely result in grave consequences to the economy of our state,” Murkowski said in his statement.

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Lisa Murkowski has a new chief of staff (updated)

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage—

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has named a new chief of staff, Edward Hild.

Hild has been Murkowski's legislative director for the past two years.

He replaces Karen Knutson, chief of staff since 2007. Knutson hails from Ketchikan and had been an aide for Lisa Murkowski’s father, Frank, and for vice President Dick Cheney.

Today’s announcement from Murkowski’s office doesn’t say what happened to Knutson. I asked Murkowski’s press team that question and will update when I get an answer.

(Update -- Murkowski spokesman Matthew Felling said an email that Knutson's work was appreciated and she is "currently weighing a number of professional next steps around Washington, D.C.")

Hild joined Murkowski’s office in March of 2009. He worked for New Mexico Republican Sen. Pete Domenici before that and spent seven years as Domenici’s legislative director.

He has a law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago and a bachelor’s from Ithaca College. The announcement that Murkowski's office sent out this morning said he has over a decade of Senate experience and knowledge of policy matters including energy, budgeting and appropriations.

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Mixed Alaska reaction to Osama bin Laden's death

From Erika Bolstad in Washington D.C. –

In reacting to Osama bin Laden's death, Alaska's Republican elected officials were decidedly quiet about President Barack Obama's role. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young were careful to praise the nation's military and intelligence forces, but did not mention the president.

Murkowski called bin Laden's death "a direct result of the determination of America's military and intelligence forces -- and it casts a well-deserved spotlight on our men and women who fight in the shadows."

Young warned the nation "can't get comfortable."

"There are still too many who would like to see harm brought to the United States, a nation based in freedom," Young said. "However, this is a huge victory for us and sends a strong message to those who would like to hurt us: you may try, but your efforts to hurt freedom will never succeed!"

But Democratic Sen. Mark Begich heaped praise on not just the current president, but his predecessor, calling bin Laden's death "a decade-long commitment by two presidents and thousands of American service members."

"I applaud our military men and women, President Obama, and our intelligence officers for this historic moment," he said. "Since the unforgettable tragedy of September 11 nearly a decade ago, Americans have waited for justice to be served."

Republican Gov. Sean Parnell also walked a careful line, crediting both Obama and former Bush – even as he reminded people that Alaska is "home to many military families and service members who put themselves in harm’s way in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, so that we can enjoy the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution."

"We all owe a debt of gratitude to Presidents Obama and Bush for their unwavering determination in achieving this objective," Parnell said.

Does Obama deserve credit for bin Laden's death? The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler takes a look at that question in his Fact Checker column, and concludes that "Obama might have given a bit more of a public shout-out to his predecessor. But the buck stops with the current occupant of the White House. Certainly, if bin Laden had not been found, Obama’s Republican rival might have used a clip of Obama promising to kill bin Laden in some kind of attack ad."

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