The long-delayed release of public records in Alaska, 24,199 pages of emails sent between former Gov. Sarah Palin (and her husband) and state officials, will happen in Juneau at 9 a.m. Friday, the Alaska governor's office announced Monday.
News organizations and citizens requested the emails under the state public records law back in 2008, when the relatively unknown Palin burst onto the national scene, and when it became known that she and her staff were using personal Yahoo accounts to conduct state business outside the usual reach of public records requests.
The records to be released include emails that went between the Yahoo accounts of Palin or her husband, Todd Palin, and about 50 top state officials. When one side of those email discussions passed through the state mail computers, it became a public record. (A legal challenge now in the state Supreme Court addresses the broader question of whether all the governor's emails about state business, even if conducted between Yahoo accounts without passing through state computers, should also be considered a public record.)
Free public archive
Soon after the emails are released, msnbc.com plans to scan them 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. A similar archive was created by msnbc.com for a smaller batch of Todd Palin emails last year. Those emails showed the vigorous role the "First Dude" played in the operation of state government. Here is that archive. In both cases the legal services company Crivella West volunteered its services.
The state at first quoted prices as high as $15 million for the records, but the price is now down to 3 cents a page, or $725.97 for a set of the records. The state plans to release the documents at the door to the governor's office, and to provide handtrucks to help the reporters and citizens get the documents to the car. Other copies are being shipped to requesters in Anchorage and elsewhere.
As we've described, the wait for the public records has now lasted longer than the Palin administration. Sarah Palin was governor for 966 days, before ending her term abruptly. As of Friday, the anticipated day of release, msnbc.com's request for public records under state law will have been pending for 997 days.
Records still withheld
Not all the e-mails are being released. The state had said that it it is withholding thousands of pages because of privacy concerns or the executive or deliberative exemptions in the state public records law, as it withheld documents in the previous release of Todd Palin emails to msnbc.com.
Linda Perez, administrative director in the office of Gov. Sean Parnell (Palin's former lieutenant governor), said Monday that the state is withholding 2,275 pages, and there were an additional "140 pages of emails that were determined to be non-records." Some of the pages that will be released will have information blanked out, or redacted. We expect to receive a log of the withheld items, as required by state law.
Here are links to our previous coverage, with details on the requests, the state's explanation of the delays, and the shifting estimates of the costs.
- Alaska must release Palin emails by May 31, state AG declares
- Quest for Palin emails may exceed her time in office
- Want Palin's emails? That'll be $15 million
- Yes, we're still waiting to read Palin's emails
- Search the archive of Todd Palin emails
- Palin emails reveal a powerful 'first dude'
- Palin lawyer responds to msnbc.com story