The Washington Post reports that Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) is “being asked by a local Republican activist to release more than 1,100 e-mails she withheld from a public records request, including 40 that were copied to her husband, Todd.” Invoking a favored practice of the Bush administration, Palin has claimed executive privilege to keep the e-mails secret — despite the fact many of them were sent to Todd, who is not an elected official.
What’s more, Palin and her staff intentionally use her personal Yahoo e-mail account, perhaps to avoid document release requests:
Palin also routinely does government business from a Yahoo address, firstname.lastname@example.org, rather than from her secure official state e-mail address, according to documents already made public.
“Whoops!” Palin aide Frank Bailey wrote, after addressing an e-mail to the governor’s official state address.
“Frank, This is not the Governor’s personal account,” a secretary reminded him.
The lawyer filing the request pointed out that the point of government e-mail is to ensure “security and encryption.” “She’s running state business out of Yahoo?” he asked. Mother Jones reports that Palin’s refusal to hand over e-mails stands in violation of the Alaska Public Records Act.
Palin’s move is eerily reminiscent of Bush administration ploys to dramatically increase secrecy in government, such as when White House aides switched to personal e-mail accounts to avoid subpoenas during the investigation into U.S. Attorney scandal last year:
But just a week after E-mails in the U.S. attorneys case became a main focus of congressional Democrats probing the firings, several aides said that they stopped using the White House system except for purely professional correspondence. [...]
At least two aides said that they have subsequently bought their own private E-mail system through a cellular phone or Blackberry server. When asked how he communicated, one aide pulled out a new personal cellphone and said, “texting.”
As Josh Marshall pointed out at the time, if the White House was using personal e-mails, “they can’t have even the vaguest claim” to executive privilege. Similarly, the fact that Palin copies her husband on her e-mails and often uses a personal account raises the question of whether her e-mails are actually official executive business.
Palin’s commitment to secrecy and her stonewalling of an ethics investigation into her role in “Troopergate” are more evidence that a McCain-Palin administration would be little more than a third Bush term.