Palin Criticizes News Coverage, Praises Obama Speech in E-Mails

Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Sarah Palin pans local media, calling coverage “biased and unfair,” and praises an energy speech by then-candidate Barack Obama in some of the thousands of e-mails sent during her time as governor of Alaska.

More than 24,000 e-mails from almost two years of Palin’s term were made public by the state yesterday, offering a glimpse into her administration up to September 2008, shortly after Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona chose her to be his running mate in his unsuccessful presidential campaign.

“Can you flippinbelieveit?!” she wrote to her state Department of Revenue commissioner on Aug. 30, 2008, the day after McCain selected her to run for vice president.

The six boxes of documents, weighing about 300 pounds, include e-mails about bears, the budget, and oil and gas issues, as well as the firing of her public safety commissioner, which led to a scandal dubbed “Troopergate.” On Aug. 15, 2008, she wrote that the media were reporting the issue “incorrectly.”

In one e-mail, she called reports on her budget and potential trooper layoffs “biased and unfair.”

“It is appalling to see and hear the untruths being spewed about the DPS budget and contract results,” she wrote to members of her staff on Aug. 19, 2008, referring to the state Department of Public Safety.

‘Guy Named Barack Obama’

The bulk of the correspondence shows Palin and her staff busy attending to routine events and official business, including speeches, schedules, travel, board appointments and job applicants.

In one February 2007 exchange, a Palin adviser recommends that when she is in Washington, she meet with Pete Rouse, who was Obama’s chief of staff when he was in the Senate and served briefly in the same job at the White House.

“He’s now chief-of-staff for a guy named Barack Obama,” the aide wrote.

The aide relayed information that Rouse “wants to help Alaska however he can,” and also had predicted that Palin would win election as governor.

“I’m game to meet him,” Palin responded.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said today on his Twitter account that the meeting between Rouse and Palin “didn’t happen and wasn’t requested.”

‘Wrong Candidate’

Several weeks before she was selected as McCain’s running mate, Palin in an e-mail to her aides praised a speech that Obama, then seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, gave in Michigan on energy.

“He gave a great speech this morn in Michigan -- mentioned Alaska,” she wrote. “Stole our Energy Rebate $1,000 check idea, stole our TC-Alaska gasoline talking points, etc.”

Palin tells her staff to write a statement “saying he’s right on,” and asks an aide to help “crank this quick statement out as our ‘reaction’ to some of Obama’s good points this morning.”

Palin later writes: “He did say ‘yay’ to our gasline. Pretty cool. Wrong candidate.”

Palin, 47, who was elected in 2006 and resigned the governorship in July 2009, has been coy about whether she will seek the Republican presidential nomination for 2012. She made a multiday East Coast tour in a red, white and blue bus this month that ended in the early primary state of New Hampshire, diverting attention from Republicans already in the race.

In another e-mail on Aug. 19, 2008, Palin asked her staff whether someone went into her bedroom in the governor’s mansion in Juneau to get e-mails from her computer.

Bedroom Computer Search

“Who, when, etc conducted this search of my bedroom’s computer and the other house computer?” she wrote. “And what were the reasons given and responses given to whomever must have officially entered the residence on whatever day it was that this occurred.”

A legislative commission was investigating Troopergate in August 2008. Erika Fagerstrom, Palin’s residence manager, wrote back to Palin on Aug. 19, 2008, saying the Department of Law wanted access to her e-mails before the legislative “investigators have access to it.”

On that same day, Palin wrote: “It’s unacceptable that whomever is in charge of this ‘investigation’ did not inform me nor grant me approval before proceeding. I’m dumbfounded by the way this is developing.”

Palin also received advice from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, now a Republican candidate for president, about how to defend against criticism related to per diem allowances for her family. He said Palin didn’t charge taxpayers for all that she could have under the law.

Private E-Mail

The release of the records follows more than two years of pursuit and legal challenges by media outlets and members of the public under a state freedom-of-information law that began when Palin became the Republican vice presidential nominee.

The state also provided a list of thousands of e-mails that were withheld for privacy reasons. Many dealt with potential appointments and personnel issues, while some related to “children, dinner and prayer” and “talking points on petroleum tax proposal,” according to the list.

During her governorship, Palin pushed an ethics overhaul and a tax increase on oil companies. She also supported as much as $500 million in state subsidies for Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. to pursue a multimillion-dollar natural gas pipeline project.

Palin faced tension in her administration in mid-2008 when she became the subject of Troopergate, an abuse-of-power inquiry over firing Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

Divorce Battle

The police chief said he was dismissed for refusing to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, who was involved in a divorce and custody battle with Palin’s sister.

In October 2008, a state legislative investigator found that Palin had abused her authority and violated state ethics rules by letting her husband, Todd, use her office to press for firing Monegan. A separate investigation by the state Personnel Board in November 2008 found the governor didn’t violate ethics rules.

Palin said on “Fox News Sunday” June 5 she wasn’t worried that some of the e-mails might be damaging.

“Every rock in the Palin household that could ever be kicked over and uncovered anything, it’s already been kicked over,” she said. She also said the e-mails “weren’t meant for public consumption.”

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