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Alaska releases trove of e-mails from Palin’s term as governor

Messages cover range of political, everyday subjects

Journalists carried boxes containing the thousands of e-mails from Sarah Palin’s time as governor across a street in Alaska. The e-mails came in a set of five 55-pound boxes. Journalists carried boxes containing the thousands of e-mails from Sarah Palin’s time as governor across a street in Alaska. The e-mails came in a set of five 55-pound boxes. (Brian Wallace/Associated Press)
By Robert O’Harrow and Rachel Weiner
Washington Post / June 11, 2011

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JUNEAU, Alaska — The state of Alaska released more than 13,000 e-mails yesterday that shed light on Sarah Palin’s tenure as governor — before she became a vice-presidential candidate, a reality-TV star, and an undeclared heavyweight in the 2012 race for the White House.

Many of the e-mails dealt with the mundane matters of running an office and a state: speech preparations, gubernatorial appointments, even office softball games. Others, however, provide a look at Palin’s political persona, before she was catapulted into the national spotlight.

In one, written weeks before Palin was chosen as a running mate by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, Palin praises a speech by the man who would be McCain’s opponent in the 2008 presidential race.

Senator Barack Obama “gave a great speech this morn in Michigan — mentioned Alaska,’’ Palin wrote to aides. In a speech in Lansing, Mich., Obama had spoken of the need to complete the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline, and open more oil and gas drilling in Alaska. “So . . . we need to take advantage of this [and] write a statement saying he’s right on.’’

A year before, in February 2007, a staffer recommended to Palin that she meet Pete Rouse, “who’s now chief of staff for some guy named Barack Obama,’’ when she was in Washington on an upcoming trip.

“I’m game to meet him,’’ Palin wrote back.

Other e-mails show that Palin relied on her husband, Todd, for advice on policy issues. In a March 2008 e-mail, for instance, the governor makes it clear that he also weighed in on how to deal with Alaska’s burgeoning wolf population, a topic of debate at the time among officials and environmental experts.

The governor told her fish and game commissioner in blunt terms that she opposed using state helicopters to hunt wolves and preferred paying private hunters.

“We have to act quickly on this as predators are acting quickly and rural families face ridiculous situation of being forced to import more beef instead of feeding their families our healthy staple of alaskan game. Nonsense. Unacceptable — and not on my watch,’’ she said.

Her source of information was her husband, who “interviewed buddies who live out there. . . . Some confirmation that state intervention isn’t first choice w/the locals,’’ Palin said. “We need to incentivize here,’’ including providing money for trappers.

The e-mails also reveal Palin’s sensitivity to the way she was portrayed in the media, even at a time when the coverage came mainly from local outlets in Alaska. Palin’s contentious relationship with the national news media has become a major theme of her political persona in the years since the end of the 2008 campaign.

In 2008, for instance, one of Palin’s press aides sent her an essay about Jane Swift, the onetime governor of Massachusetts, who raised young children while in office. Palin responded with a barb about a recent column from a writer at the Anchorage Daily News.

“Pls remind Julia Omalley that ‘they’ said the same thing throughout my career — ‘too young,’ ‘pregnant,’ ‘kids’ . . .’She won’t be able to do it,’ ’’ Palin wrote. “This coming from good ol’ boys who don’t like change. . . . And so far along in my career we’ve proved them wrong at each turn.’’

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