ANCHORAGE — Alaska officials are investigating an apparent gap in the release last week of more than 24,199 pages of emails sent and received by former Alaska. Gov. Sarah Palin during her first 21 months in office.
The emails released covered Dec. 4, 2006, when Palin took office, until September 2008, or a few weeks after Republican presidential candidate John McCain tapped her to be his running mate. The state has yet to begin reviewing emails from that point until she quit as governor 10 months later.
The emails were released Friday to media organizations, including The Associated Press, who sought them under an open records request shortly after Palin was named the vice presidential candidate.
However, there are very few emails from her first — and very busy — month in office, as first reported by the Anchorage Daily News.
Only five emails from December were provided in the release, and the first email generated from Palin’s Yahoo account appears Jan. 2, 2007. Another from an unidentified account just days earlier was included in an email chain between aides.
Linda Perez, the administrative office for Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, said Tuesday she has asked information technology services to check their search criteria for the emails and come back with suggestions. She did not have a timetable for when they might be able to provide further information.
Palin and her staff were known to use private email accounts to conduct state business.
One high ranking Department of Natural Resources official, Marty Rutherford, sent Palin three emails to her government account between Dec. 4-6 before Michelle Fabrello, the coordinator for constituent relations, responded.
“I wanted to let you know that this is a ‘public’ address for the Governor, it is not one that she has access to,” Fabrello wrote.
“Thank you so much!! I have the Governor’s personal email as well, so I’ll just use that for awhile,” Rutherford responded in a Dec. 8 email.
Perez said Palin gave the state a CD with emails from her Yahoo account so they could be included as part of the state’s archive, and other employees were asked to review their private accounts for emails related to state business and to send those to their state accounts.
Tim Crawford, the treasurer for Palin’s political action committee did not immediately respond to The Associated Press on Tuesday whether emails from this time period were included on the CD provided to the state.
It would be unlikely Palin didn’t write emails the first 29 days she was in office given the high profile nature of a new governor and the work load she faced.
Among the high profile issues she tackled early on were assembling a negotiating team to plan for a natural gas pipeline, making several cabinet appointments, making plans to sell a controversial state jet, canceling a road project in Juneau, releasing a preliminary budget and vetoing a bill that sought to block the state from giving public employee benefits to same-sex partners.
The first email from Palin in the 24,199 pages released Friday was sent Jan. 2, 2007, from a personal Yahoo account. In the state’s release of emails, officials withheld 2,275 pages for reasons including attorney-client, work product or executive privilege; an additional 140 pages were deemed to be “non-records,” or unrelated to state business.