Updated 2:54 p.m. Eastern Time
After a years-long delay, the state of Alaska released more than 24,000 pages of emails from about 21 months of Sarah Palin's time as Alaska governor on Friday.
The emails were released as paper printouts to the media outlets that requested them, among them CBS News, which had a reporter in Juneau collecting the heavy boxes of emails. Media outlets paid $725 each for photocopies of the records.
Check out the full collection of emails and documents here.
Journalists are now busy reviewing the emails for nuggets of information from Palin's roughly half-term as Alaska governor, though the emails stop in September 2008, leaving almost of a year of her time in office uncovered. The state has said it has not finished reviewing the emails from late 2008 through the summer of 2009, when she abruptly resigned. It remains unclear when those emails will be released.
"There have been a few [emails] that make clear her disdain for the press and her surprise at voluminous requests for information," said CBS News Political Correspondent Jan Crawford, who is currently reviewing the documents. "In one, she apologizes to her staff for having to deal with the media. In another to staff, she implies she had a contentious relationship with Alaska Congressman Don Young. But a good number obviously are on the issues she confronts as governor--energy bills, alternate energy issues, gas leases."
A number of media outlets were scanning the emails and making them available publicly, and some are asking readers to help review them. (It is not clear why the state is not simply making the emails available electronically.) They are now appearing online; you can see them here or here.
The emails were first requested in 2008, when Palin was the Republican vice presidential nominee under Sen. John McCain of Arizona. A number of media outlets requested the documents, and the state lumped all the requests together.
Alaska is supposed to respond to document requests within ten days, but they can ask for extensions, and the state did so repeatedly when it came to the Palin emails.
The release does not represent a complete record of Palin's email communications. For starters, the state of Alaska decided to redact information from some emails, and simply withhold others. (Before the release, the state said it was withholding more than 2,000 pages out of executive privilege, attorney-client privilege and other concerns.) Reporters will be hard pressed to judge whether the state's decisions about redaction and withholding are justified; Palin's former lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, is now the state's governor.
The just-released list of withheld and redacted documents alone is 189 pages long (PDF), and says emails were redacted or withheld for reasons including that they dealt with personal issues like a "child custody matter" and "children, dinner, and prayer," staffing issues and potential state appointees.
In addition, Palin and her aides were known to use private email accounts, possibly to avoid some messages becoming public. The Associated Press reports that "Palin gave the state a CD with emails from her Yahoo account, and other employees were asked to review their private accounts for emails related to state business and to send those to their state accounts," but it's not clear what information from the private accounts, if any, will be included in the release.
And Palin's attorneys were given access to the emails before they were released publicly, though the state maintains it did not withhold or redact any emails as a result of their concerns.
On Sunday, Palin told Fox News, where she is a paid contributor, that the email release was not a problem for her, since her tenure had already been thoroughly examined. She added, however, that "a lot of those emails obviously weren't meant for public consumption" and warned that some could be taken out of context.
Palin's political action committee welcomed the release.
"The thousands upon thousands of emails released today show a very engaged Gov. Sarah Palin being the CEO of her state," said SarahPAC treasurer Tim Crawford. "The emails detail a governor hard at work. Everyone should read them."
Among the controversies that could be potentially reignited thanks to the email release are the "Troopergate" saga concerning alleged pressure from the Palin family to fire a state trooper and Palin's role in the now infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," a proposed bridge to the rural outpost of Ketchikan, Alaska that was never built.
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