The debate over access to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s e-mails may not matter if hackers have their way.
The Secret Service, instead of simply retrieving the messages through Google, asked The Associated Press for copies of the hacked e-mails. The AP refused to hand them over.
That dispute unfolded against the backdrop of an ongoing battle over access to other official e-mail from the Palin administration.
Palin has refused to release 1,100 e-mails in response to a public records request by a local watchdog, Andree McLeod. McLeod’s attorney, Don Mitchell filed an administrative appeal last week that could be ruled on as soon as Wednesday.
Mitchell said, "The regulations state we’re entitled to a written decision on this appeal within 10 days of the closing of the administrative record. That means they’re going to have to come up in writing what this is all about."
It’s unclear from the law what event will constitute the "closing of the administrative record," but Mitchell said he’s hopeful it means the governor’s office will be forced to issue the decision by Sept. 24.
McLeod said she decided to file an administrative appeal rather than a lawsuit because, under Alaska law, she could be forced to bear the state’s cost of litigating the case if the court found against her.
The records request was initially made on June 17 — long before Palin became a vice-presidential candidate. McLeod is seeking "copies of all landline and cell phone, text message, email, and leave request records" created between Feb. 1 and April 15, 2008.
She said she was concerned, in part, that political party activities were being conducted on state time, which is prohibited by law.
The former Alaska legislature candidate received several thousand documents in response to her request and a log of information that had been withheld, including the more than 1,100 e-mails. Many of those e-mails were copied to Palin’s husband, which Mitchell argued destroys any executive privilege the Palin administration might have had.
In the documents McLeod did receive are indications other documents are being improperly withheld.
For example, McLeod said, e-mail addresses and state phone numbers are frequently redacted. McLeod said she’s also been able to get copies of some withheld e-mails from their senders and does not understand how they could be properly withheld.
McLeod said of the thousands of records she’s received, "There’s just one e-mail that I found in all the e-mails that the governor’s official state e-mail address is being used by Frank Bailey and Ivy Frye, is being written to, they’re always using her private e-mail account. So is the governor. Her Yahoo account."
Frank Bailey and Ivy Frye are the state officials on whom McLeod’s records request focused.