We’ve all heard of the infamous “Frank, This not the Governor’s personal account” email written by a Palin aide to someone who accidentally used the governor’s official state email address.
At the time, the governor was under fire because when she had the opportunity to nominate three appointees to the seven-member Board of Game, there were no Alaska Natives amongst her choices. This would have meant that, for the first time since its inception in 1976, the Game Board wouldn’t have had any Native members.
That from the Anchorage Press which, in a major piece today, digs deep into the story of Palin’s email accounts today. Their story is headlined, Where the sun doesn’t shine.
When new stories revealed that the governor used at least two Yahoo accounts—firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com—for state business, [self-described ethics watchdog and registered Republican Andrée] McLeod, a former ally of Palin’s, wondered what other state business had been conducted on the private email accounts…
Alaska Statute 40.25.115 addresses public records in the context of electronic files, and mandates that public agencies such as the governor’s office must “protect the security and integrity of the information system of the public agency.” The state’s email system is extremely secure, and archives governmental communications automatically.
Not so with Yahoo.
“When all this first came to light because of Andrée’s first records request, I said, this is nuts—among other things because the state of Alaska spends millions of dollars to safeguard these records,” [Donald Craig Mitchell, an Anchorage attorney representing McLeod] says. “Three days after I pointed that out, she got hacked into.”
Two Yahoo accounts??? Is there no penalty for recklessness?
Alaska’s statutes do not mandate that government business must be conducted on government email accounts….
McLeod’s attorney [says] “It may well be that the legislature, because of this unfortunate incident, needs to amend these statutes to bring them into the 21st century, starting with the fact that—if it was up to me—I think it should be a misdemeanor for anybody to engage in state business without using a state email account.”
“I guess the analogy I would use is the paper analogy: If you have a sitting governor going home and using private stationery to conduct public business, mailing it out through her home mailbox, there would immediately be an uproar, because that’s clear that that’s violative of the separation between private life and public life,” [associate professor of journalism studies at the Missouri School of Journalism and Executive Director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition Charles] Davis explains.
It’s worth remembering that Palin learned from the pros:
In 2007 the Bush White House came under fire for doing something very similar—using email accounts maintained by the Republican National Committee and the Bush Cheney ’04 campaign for official White House communications. The Presidential Records Act is similar to our statute regarding preservation of records, and in 2001 White House counsel had advised staff to only use the official White House email system for official communications and to retain any official emails they received on a nongovernmental account.