JUNEAU, Alaska — In the final months before she resigned as Alaska’s governor, Sarah Palin displayed growing frustrations over deteriorating relationships with state lawmakers and their perceived efforts to “lame duck” her administration, along with outrage over ethics complaints that she felt frivolously targeted her and which prompted her to write: “I can’t take it any more.”
The details are included in more than 17,000 emails released Thursday by state officials — nearly three and half years after the records were first sought by The Associated Press and several other news organizations.
By the spring of 2009, the emails show, Palin was regularly butting heads with lawmakers of both parties over her absences from the Capitol and over her picks for vacancies in the state Senate and her own cabinet. The emails she sent to staff illustrate Palin’s growing suspicion that those legislators were seeking to undermine her administration by harping on how often she was away from Juneau, the state capitol.
She asked her aides to tally how many days she was out of Alaska in 2008. The staff came up with 94 days, but 10 less if you count travel days when she was in the state part of the day; the absences included all of October and most of September while she was on the campaign trail as the GOP vice presidential candidate.
“It’s unacceptable, and there must be push back on their attempts to lame duck this administration,” Palin wrote to her top aides on April 9, 2009. “That’s only going to get worse as they try to pull more bs and capitalize on me being out of the capitol building for 36 hours,” she wrote aides.
Palin also asked her aides to see if they could hold certain legislators’ “feet to the fire” and hold votes on her nominees. She wrote words of encouragement to Wayne Anthony Ross, her nominee for attorney general, telling him to “stay strong.”
“Those who want to turn this into a kangaroo court will soon see you confirmed as Alaska’s AG,” Palin wrote. Ross was not confirmed, the first ever cabinet-level candidate rejected by the Alaska Legislature.
Days before she announced her resignation, Palin, in a June 29, 2009 email, told a press aide that there may need to be a statement on upcoming court proceedings related to the person in Tennessee who hacked into her personal email.
The response from the aide, Sharon Leighow, is redacted but Palin reacted strongly: “The state is involved- has been since day one- it’s not a political angle. Don’t do a statement then, but know that my staff and Law has been working on this, spending state public time and resources, and the public does have right to know how their public resources are spent, in this case it’s to addre ss a TN hacker’s bad actions affecting us up here.”
Palin’s frustration over a series of ethics complaints filed against her, one of the issues she cited when stepping down, emerges in a series of e-mails on March 24, 2009.
“These are the things that waste my time and money, and the state’s time and money,” she wrote to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell.
She told her staff to release a statement about a recent complaint filed by a blogger that said, in part, “Yes, I wore Arctic Cat snow gear at a snow machine event, because it was cold outside. And by the way, today I am wearing Alaska’s own Paige Adams’ jeans and Alaska’s Romney Dodd-Ortland hand-painted clogs. When will I see the ethics charge for wearing these? Now how much will this blogger’s asinine political grandstanding cost all of us in time and money today?”
In an April 2009 email, she commiserated over a story indicating another ethics complaint was to be filed: “Unflippinbelievable… I’m sending this because you can relate to the bullcrap continuation of the hell these people put the family through,” she wrote to Ivy Frye, an aide during the first part of her term, and to Frank Bailey, another aide.
Later that day, in an email to her husband and two top aides, she wrote, referring to the same issue: “I can’t take it any more.”
Yet more frustration was evident in a May 1, 2009 exchange with aide Kris Perry, whom Palin was checking in with. Palin said Andree McLeod, who filed numerous ethics complaints against Palin, was “wasting so much precious state time and money. It’s appalling what’s going on.”
She tells an aide on May 24, 2009 that she doesn’t plan to take time off for the Memorial Day weekend because “that would be unacceptable to the critics.”
Near the end of her tenure in July 2009, Palin received word from a state senator who asked what she thought should be done to respond to her complaints that frivolous and political complaints are too easy to file. Palin said she hoped state officials “will work to change the insane circumstances, yet keep allowing public to hold elected officials accountable.”
“Too late for my family and me, but hope Sean and others never have to go through the hell” she experienced, Palin wrote in the July 20, 2009 email.
The emails are the last of her emails from her time as governor, according to Alaska state officials. Citizens and news organizations, including the AP, first requested Palin’s emails in September 2008, as part of her vetting as the Republican vice presidential nominee. The state released a batch of the emails last June, a lag of nearly three years that was attributed to the sheer volume of the records and the flood of requests stemming from Palin’s tenure.
The 24,199 pages of emails that were released last year left off in September 2008. Thursday’s release includes 17,736 records, or 34,820 pages, generally spanning from October 2008 until Palin’s resignation, in July 2009. Of those, 13,791 records were released without redactions, according to the governor’s office. Another 965 documents were withheld.
The release also includes some records that the current governor’s deputy chief of staff said were inadvertently omitted from the earlier release.
Several media organizations, including MSNBC, said they were not informed of Thursday’s release.
Sharon Leighow, a spokeswoman for the current governor, Sean Parnell, said she was looking into why MSNBC was not on the list. She said there may have been some confusion, with the woman who handled the last records request retiring and some prior requestors asking that they not be included this time.
She said the AP was the only organization that tracked the release date. With the last release, “I had everyone calling me, saying, What time? Where do we need to be? And I got none of that (this time).”
The first batch of emails released last June, before Palin announced she would not run for president, showed that she was angling for the vice presidential slot months before John McCain picked her to be his running mate. Those records produced no bombshells, while painting a picture of an image-conscious, driven leader, struggling with the gossip about her family and marriage, involved in the day-to-day duties of running the state and keeping tabs on the signature issues of her administration.