Updated, 2:30 p.m: The state of Alaska released 24,199 pages of former Gov. Sarah Palin's e-mails today, and the mystery is whether the big document dump will have any effect on the aspirations of the could-be Republican presidential candidate. "The e-mails," says Tim Crawford, treasurer of Palin's political campaign Sarah PAC, simply "detail a governor hard at work." And indeed a quick reading shows many do. As news organizations scrambled (with the aid of crowd-sourcing) to read and decipher the messages handed out in 50-pound boxes in Juneau, initial reports revealed how Palin dealt with potential ethics and family issues. Among the e-mails posted so far:
--Anchorage Daily News: Palin chief of staff Mike Nizich gives Palin advice on how to handle the issue of her taking state per diem for nights she spent in her own home; Palin expresses incredulity that Daily News is working on a story about the state paying for her daughter, Piper, to come with her to an event in Barrow; she also "ghost-wrote" a letter to the editor - quoting herself - regarding a complaint that Palin had failed to appear at the 2008 Miss Alaska pageant.
--Mother Jones: Palin has good words about Obama energy policy; she urges folks to "pray" for the Alaska pipeline; upon hearing that the pipeline project would not begin until Exxon is "happy," she responds: "Unflippinbelievable;" Palin is apparently a fan of Pastor John Hagee, the controversial leader of Christians United for Israel who, among other incendiary remarks, once alleged that Adolf Hitler's genocide against European Jews was "god's will."
--The New York Times: An e-mail from the manager of the governor's house to Palin in early 2008 makes clear that she had inquired about the possibility of installing a tanning bed in the house; among the withheld e-mails was one about a meeting with then-Vice President Dick Cheney regarding the Alaska gas pipeline and the Endangered Species Act.
-The Washington Post: Palin's e-mails show constant discussion and concern about how she is portrayed in the media, on matters big and small; She told staffers: "i need folks to really help ramp up accurate counter comments to the misinformation that's being spread out there."
-Associated Press: Palin lobbied for vice-presidential slot as the John McCain campaign geared up, while her staff thought "President Palin" sounded much better.
Read e-mails as they're posted one-by-one here. Seattle restaurant Wild Ginger and mountain climber Jim Whitaker get mentions (use search feature).
The e-mails cover Palin's Alaska reign from December 2006 to September 2008 (she resigned in mid-2009). Alaska released the e-mails on paper rather then electronically. The New York Times and The Washington Post are crowd-sourcing the documents, asking readers to peruse the messages for relevant details and report back. The Anchorage Daily News, working with ABC News, rushed the e-mails by plane from Juneau to a legal-document service in Anchorage, to be scanned and converted into searchable digital files. Mother Jones, MSNBC and ProPublica, among others, have also created an electronic e-mail database.
As reported when Palin campaigned as a vice-presidential candidate in 2008, the governor sometimes used her personal e-mail for official business in an apparent attempt to get around disclosure laws. Secrecy was a hallmark of her administration: Exorbitant fees were sometimes imposed to fend off public-records requesters--a college professor who sought state scientists' e-mails on global warming, for example, was told he'd have to pay $468,784 for the processing.
Palin, whose parents are from the Tri-Cities (and whose father-in-law is from Seattle), draws strong political support from conservative pockets of the Seattle area such as Bellevue, where GOP stalwarts Rufus and Pat Lumry, among others, gave $10,000 to Sarah PAC. Seattle commercial fishers also supported her gubernatorial run. As a vice-presidential candidate in 2008, the governor and John McCain (she called it the "Palin-McCain campaign") raised more than $2.3 million in Washington, dwarfed nonetheless by Barack Obama's $10 million-plus.