With Alaska political junkies eagerly awaiting Friday’s release of 24,000-plus emails from the first two years of the Sarah Palin administration, one person didn’t have to wait.
Frank Bailey, a former Palin gubernatorial aide and “Troopergate” figure, reported he based a book he wrote on about 60,000 emails from his time working for her. His book, “Blind Allegiance,” was published last month.
That’s not right, said Palin critic Andree McLeod, who has sought most of those same records herself.
While the state has begun an ethics investigation into Bailey’s acquisition of the records, McLeod said it should be conducting a criminal investigation as well now that they know what the records Bailey took are worth.
”That’s not an ethics violation, that’s outright theft,” she said.
Bailey attorney Kevin Clarkson and Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton Walsh did not return phone calls left with their offices this week and last week.
McLeod had earlier filed an ethics complaint against Bailey, but said that the state’s decision to charge $725 for copies of the emails, which fill five banker’s boxes, shows their value.
“Now they have a quantified value to associate with the level of theft by Frank,” she said.
In addition to the copying costs, recipients who wanted the records shipped from Juneau would have to pay for that as well, possibly adding hundreds of dollars to the total.
McLeod was told that she could review the emails for free, but that they would only be made available for review in Juneau.
After Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, and other legislators interceded, the email copies will now be made available by the Legislature in Anchorage.
In a letter to McLeod, Walsh referenced the investigation.
“Please be assured that we take this matter very seriously and are working to ensure that the state has in its possession all state records and emails,” Walsh wrote.
McLeod, though, said her concern was different. She said Bailey used his government position to get a financial benefit that wasn’t available to the general public.
In addition, Bailey appeared to have obtained electronic copies of the emails, and obtained them in unredacted form, something that wasn’t available to the public at large.
From questions addressed to me by reporters over the past few days, it appears there is speculation beyond the known fact that Bailey downloaded all of Palin's Yahoo emails when he found out the Yahoo accounts had been hacked (he testified to this in the Kernell trial). Then he shut down the accounts. He then gave Palin attorney Thomas van Flein the discs. The speculation is that during the time between the discovery of the Kernell hack and the end of his work in the Palin administration, Bailey might have already been planning how he might use this privileged information at some future date.
McLeod is headed to Juneau tomorrow. She has told me she intends to spend most of her time there going through the logs of the thousands of emails the state is not releasing. She also expressed gratitude to the people who have been reaching out to her with offers of assistance on this over the past two weeks, including Democratic Party legislators, who have been very helpful.
Here is the latest correspondence between McLeod and Attorney General John J. Burns:
Subject: Palin's public record request
Dear Mr. Burns.
I wanted to make sure you saw what the gov's office specific costs are that are associated with Palin's official email records and documents. The gov's office has quoted the duplication and shipping fees, and they are listed below.
Please note that Frank Bailey paid absolutely nothing for all the tens of
thousands of official Palin email records that he pilfered from the state
upon his termination. We now find that anyone else wishing to see only
24,000 of these official email records and documents has to pay at least
$725 for duplication fees. Tack on the shipping costs and the value of
Palin's official email records and documents surpasses $1,000, depending on your locale.
Bailey is benefiting financially with the sale of his book from the use of
these stolen official email records and documents which he also shared with Morris and Devon, in violation of AK Public Records and Ethics laws and which have still not yet been disseminated to the public.
I hope this information is of assistance as you quantify the level of
Bailey, Morris, and Devon's illegal actions in order to find proper remedy
if, and when, you choose to protect and defend the public's business.
I still await a response as to how the Parnell administration intends to
resolve this situation and what actions are planned re: the possession of
official, confidential, privileged and still undisclosed email records and
documents by Bailey, Morris and Devon for the last 18 months, as has been admitted by all involved.