Tag Archives: Talis Colberg

It’s Not Sarah’s Fault…Just Ask Her!

Alaska Govenor Sarah Palin and "Joe the Plumber" aka Joe Wurzelbacher.

Alaska Govenor Sarah Palin and "Joe the Plumber" aka Joe Wurzelbacher.

When it comes to taking responsibility for her failures, Sarah Palin is completely unaccountable. Her finger is always pointed at the most convenient scapegoat. Last fall, I said she was George W. Bush with lipstick; nothing is ever her fault. With her resignation, she has set a new bar for blame.

A 10 Month Accounting of Blame…

Troopergate was her brother-in-law’s fault.

Walt Monegan was a rogue commissioner.

Neglecting a vetting of Palin’s appointed replacement of Commissioner Monegan wasn’t her fault, she didn’t know Chuck Kopp had a sexual harassment charge. His 14 day employment was rewarded with a $10,000 severance package.

Her public press conference, pro-Pebble Mine stance during a contentious election was the fault of a “Governor’s hat” wardrobe malfunction and possibly Tim Griffin.

The legislative investigation wasn’t her doing. It was a “Democratic driven, partisan witch hunt” voted on by 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats after Sarah Palin challenged them with Bush-like bravado “Bring it on!”

When her church was burned, Palin blamed it on the attention she was receiving from people who didn’t like her.

The Branchflower Report’s “guilty of abuse of power” findings weren’t her fault; she filed her own ethics complaint and would release those favorable findings the day before the election.

Continue reading

Gov. Palin Press Conference Focuses on Colberg Resignation, Federal Stimulus Money

JUNEAU, Alaska — Gov. Sarah Palin gave her first major news conference of 2009 on Wednesday, a day after Attorney General Talis Colberg’s resigned.

Palin said Colberg resigned amid a “harsh political environment.”

Palin repeated her earlier statement that Colberg chose to resign himself, and that he was not asked to write a letter to Sen. Hollis French, much like Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell did.

Palin said Colberg didn’t give a specific reason for his resignation, only saying that Colberg said it was in the best interest of the state.

“It was his choice to resign and if you want to talk to him more in detail about why he chose to resign, to leave state service, you’re free to do that,” Palin said. “I won’t speak for him.”

Palin received a letter Tuesday from Senate President Gary Stevens about what the governor called “a harsh political environment created during Troopergate.”

“I, like many Alaskans, was disappointed last fall with the way this matter became unnecessarily politicized during the national political campaign,” Stevens said in the letter. “We did not intend to smear or assault any of the witnesses; we want to put this behind us and move forward on issues of importance to all Alaskans.”

Palin said she did not want to talk about the issue further, and called it a personal issue.

She also talked about the federal stimulus package and said that the state will accept its share of funds — if those funds make sense for the state.

She specifically mentioned construction projects that need to happen.

Palin has voiced opposition to money for other programs in the past. She said the state might have to pick up the tab for some programs once it’s gone through the federal money.

Jason Lamb
KTUU – Alaska’s News Source

Alaska Senate Finds Todd Palin, Staffers in Contempt

The Alaska Senate confronted Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday over her resistance to Legislative subpoenas in the Troopergate investigation with a mild rebuke for her husband and some of her staff. The resolution was drafted behind the scenes, catching many lawmakers and Palin supporters off guard.

A resolution, which passed in a 16-1 vote, found 10 witnesses in contempt after they balked at testifying before a legislative investigator, but no penalties were issued.

Sen. Hollis French and Gov. Sarah Palin

Sen. Hollis French and Gov. Sarah Palin

Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, brought a resolution containing the contempt finding Friday morning in a surprise move. Those found in contempt were given no opportunity to defend themselves, but they were not penalized either.

French is chairman of the Senate Judiciary, which the Legislature designated to supervise the investigation into the scandal, dubbed Troopergate.

The public and Palin’s Senate supporters were not made aware of the contempt resolution before the Senate took it up Friday morning.

The Legislature’s investigation found Palin had the power to fire Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, but that Palin had done so partly for personal reasons and she abused her power when doing so.

Palin had originally pledged to cooperate with the Legislative investigation, but after she began running for vice-president she reversed course and Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg tried to block the investigation in court.

“The subpoenas were lawful, and the subpoenas were disobeyed,” French said.

Continue reading

What’s Ahead For Gov. Palin? Seven Challenges

Gov. Sarah Palin, back from the campaign trail, faces a changed landscape in Alaska.

Gov. Sarah Palin, back from the campaign trail, faces a changed landscape in Alaska.

It appears that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will probably be back on the national scene in two years campaigning as the Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential election.  We here at the Sarah Palin Truth Squad have decided to continue posting information about Governor Palin in anticipation of that race.  Today the Anchorage Daily News published the following article by Tom Kizzia on the political future of Gov. Palin.

For two months she basked — and sizzled — in the world’s hottest celebrity spotlight. Now Sarah Palin has come home to begin the last two years of her term as governor of Alaska.

Everything has changed: Palin’s personal horizon, her relations with the state’s other elected officials, the public’s sense of who she is.

Palin returned to her office Friday amid a brutal crossfire between detractors and defenders in the McCain camp. At the same time, however, a new national poll said 64 percent of Republicans consider her their top choice to run for president in 2012.

Continue reading

Gov. Palin Target Of NEW Alaska Ethics Complaint for Children’s Travel Expenses

CBS News’ investigative unit is reporting on a new complaint filed in Juneau, Alaska against Governor Sarah Palin related to travel expenses by Gov. Palin’s children which were charged to Alaskan taxpayers.

Alaska Governor and Republican Vice President hopeful Sarah Palin may be facing another round of scrutiny, this time for charging the state for her children to travel with her while conducing official state business.

CBS News has obtained a copy of the complaint that Frank Gwartney, a retired lineman in Anchorage filed last Friday, with Alaska’s Attorney General, Talis Colberg in Juneau. “Palin ran on the platform of ethics, transparency and anti-corruption. I’m tired of the hypocrisy that exists in Government and people need to know the truth,” said Gwartney.

The complaint against Governor Palin, alleges Misuse of Official Position: “Gov. Palin attempted to and in fact did use her official position for personal gain by securing unwarranted benefits for her daughters…” All the allegations contained in the complaint are related to state reimbursed travel.

In Alaska, ethics complaints filed against the Governor are confidential. “We can neither confirm nor refute that a complaint has been filed against Governor Sarah Palin. Any complaint remains confidential unless the person being charged waives confidentiality or if the complaint progresses to the state of probable cause,” Assistant District Attorney, Dave Jones told CBS News.

Bristol, Piper and Willow, Palin’s daughters, accrued $32,629 in travel expenses while Palin’s husband Todd raked up $22,174 – all billed to the state for a total of $54,803.00.

“The Governor’s office has expended $54,803.00 in Alaska state dollars for family travel since December 2006,” according to the Governor’s Administrative Services Director, Linda Perez. “The documentation related to family travel has changed and you have to keep in mind that the governor and her family are very popular,” added Perez.

Sharon Leighow, Deputy Communications Director, said “Governor Palin followed state policy allowing governors to charge for their children’s travel and there’s also the expectation that the first family participate in community activities across the state.”

This new ethics complaint comes on the heels of the Federal Elections Campaign complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for spending $150,000 on pricey designer threads.

CBS News previously reported on Palin’s fashion expenditures and FEC officials said purchases for such purposes are prohibited. Campaigns are not allowed to spend donated funds on expenses a person would have had regardless if they were running as a candidate or in office. That includes items like clothing, mortgage payments, country club fees, rent, groceries, etc.

The Attorney General will refer the complaint to the personnel board which is appointed by the Governor and currently includes: Debra English, Al Tamagni, and Laura Plenert. (No state employees sit on the board.) The board then determines whether the alleged conduct would violate the ethics act. If so, an independent investigator is appointed, evidence is gathered, and people are interviewed with the intent to establish probable cause. Eventually the board makes a decision and recommendations are made that may impose penalties, or disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Palin Target Of New Ethics Complaint

Palin Appointed Friends and Donors to Key Posts in Alaska, Records Show

In today’s Los Angeles Times it was reported that 100-plus jobs went to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s campaign donors or their relatives, sometimes without apparent regard to qualifications. Several donors got state-subsidized loans for business ventures of dubious public value.

Reporting from Anchorage — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, plucked from relative obscurity in part for her reform credentials, has been eager to tout them in her vice presidential campaign.

“I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau when I stood up to the special interests and the lobbyists and the big oil companies and the good old boys,” Palin told the Republican National Convention in her acceptance speech. She said that as a new governor she “shook things up, and in short order we put the government of our state back on the side of the people.”

By midway through her first term, she had signed an ethics reform bill, increased oil profit taxes and tweaked Big Oil again by awarding a gas pipeline contract to a Canadian company.

In some other respects, a Los Angeles Times examination of state records shows, her approach to government was business as usual. Take, for example, the tradition of patronage. Some of Palin’s most controversial appointments involved donors, records show.

Among The Times’ findings:

* More than 100 appointments to state posts — nearly 1 in 4 — went to campaign contributors or their relatives, sometimes without apparent regard to qualifications.

* Palin filled 16 state offices with appointees from families that donated $2,000 to $5,600 and were among her top political patrons.

* Several of Palin’s leading campaign donors received state-subsidized industrial development loans of up to $3.6 million for business ventures of questionable public value.

* Palin picked a donor to replace the public safety commissioner she fired. But the new top cop had to resign days later under an ethics cloud. And Palin drew a formal ethics complaint still pending against her and several aides for allegedly helping another donor and fundraiser land a state job.

Continue reading

Gov. Palin’s Office Wants $15 Million For Emails

Screenshot of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's emails which were hacked into last month.

Screenshot of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's emails which were hacked into last month.

Well, it now couldn’t be more clear that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the McCain presidential campaign will do ANYTHING to restrict access to her emails before the November 4th election.  Example: The Associated Press requests copies of emails pertaining to governmental business conducted through Gov. Palin’s husband and is quoted a cost of $15,364,960??

Sarah Palin’s office has discovered a renewable resource to bring millions of dollars into Alaska’s economy: the governor’s e-mails.

The office of the Republican vice-presidential nominee has quoted prices as high as $15 million for copies of state e-mails requested by news organizations and citizens. No matter what the price, most of the e-mails of Palin, her senior staff and other state employees won’t be made public until at least several weeks after the Nov. 4 presidential election, her office told msnbc.com on Thursday.

How did the cost reach $15 million? Let’s look at a typical request. When the Associated Press asked for all state e-mails sent to the governor’s husband, Todd Palin, her office said it would take up to six hours of a programmer’s time to assemble the e-mail of just a single state employee, then another two hours for “security” checks, and finally five hours to search the e-mail for whatever word or topic the requestor is seeking. At $73.87 an hour, that’s $960.31 for a single e-mail account. And there are 16,000 full-time state employees. The cost quoted to the AP: $15,364,960.

And that’s not including the copying costs. Although the e-mails are stored electronically in Microsoft Outlook and on backup servers, and although a blank CD-ROM costs only 41 cents at Capital Office Supply in Juneau, the governor’s office says it can provide copies only on paper.

Why? Because lawyers need printouts so they can black out, or “redact,” private or exempted information. That task is more difficult because Palin and her senior staff have used government e-mail accounts for some personal correspondence, and personal e-mail accounts for much of their government correspondence. The photocopies of those printouts will be a relative bargain, only 10 cents a page. A state administrator said he understood that such redaction could be done electronically, but that state offices weren’t set up to do that.

That process of deleting information is likely to be so lengthy that most requestors won’t be able to see the records until well after the next president and vice president are chosen, Palin’s office said.

E-mail sent between the governor’s staff and their private Yahoo e-mail accounts won’t be collected until Oct. 31. Searches will take an additional two weeks, until Nov. 14. And then the legal review of each e-mail will begin. There’s no telling how long that will take, because no one knows how many e-mails there are, wrote Linda J. Perez, administrative director for the governor, in a letter she sent to the state attorney general seeking approval for a delay.

A small victory: Copies of the requests themselves
Msnbc.com did receive from Palin’s office copies of all the public records requests filed since she was inaugurated, and the replies from the governor’s office. Palin took office in December 2006, after seeking office on a platform of clean and transparent government.

The price quotes reveal that Palin’s office has repeatedly tried to charge different news organizations the cost to reconstruct the same e-mail accounts of the governor, her senior staff and other employees. Each time an e-mail is requested, the office quotes the same cost of $960.31 for 13 hours to recover and search each employee’s e-mails.

NBC’s price quote for e-mails sent to Todd Palin: $15 million.

The AP’s price for e-mails between state employees and the campaign headquarters of Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain: $15 million.

And the AP again, for e-mails between state employees and the National Park Service (on polar bears, wolves and other topics): $15 million.

The AP’s news editor in Anchorage, Mark Thiessen, told msnbc.com he wasn’t authorized to say whether the AP, a nonprofit cooperative owned by newspapers, planned to pay the $45 million for e-mails.

You can read all the requests for records, and the responses of Gov. Palin’s office in this PDF file.

The employees in the governor’s office have been polite and responsive in fulfilling the request by msnbc.com for all the public records requests and replies. The charge was only $37.70 for photocopies, and the administrative coordinator, Michelle Fabrello, dashed out the door to make sure the package got in the overnight mail delivery.

No free passes
Palin’s office hasn’t always interpreted state law in favor of public access. The Alaska law on public records does not require it to charge any fee for public records, although a fee is allowed if the processing would take five hours or more. The state law says all fees may be waived if the information is used for a public purpose, such as journalism or academic research.

But the governor and the Law Department have been waiving fees only when they are just a few dollars. The state has not been granting requests to waive the fees in the public interest, because it has not been considering those requests.

The records released to msnbc.com show that the state is charging for e-mails at the same hourly rate that it charged before Palin was chosen by McCain on Aug. 29. Only the scale of the requests has changed, and now most requests come from out of state. (State law does not require requestors to be residents.) There are some in-state requests, including the local news organizations, the Democratic party and several citizens. The state employees union, which had filed an ethics complaint against Palin in the inquiry known as Troopergate, was told it would have to pay $88,000 to see e-mails for a list of employees in the governor’s office.

Even before interest in Palin went national, large and small news organizations in Alaska have been dissuaded from seeking public records from her administration, because of the cost. Voice of the Times, a conservative online news site, was quoted a price of $1,250 in May to retrieve e-mails from the accounts of two top aides to the governor, Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey. “Please cancel my request for public records,” editor Paul Jenkins wrote to the governor’s administrator. “We have a limited budget here and paying $1,250 in fees for people who already are on the state payroll is ridiculous.” The newspaper announced this week it will shut down at the end of October for lack of money.

The office of Gov. Sarah Palin has given duplicative cost estimates to many different news organizations to recover the same e-mail accounts.

The office of Gov. Sarah Palin has given duplicative cost estimates to many different news organizations to "recover" the same e-mail accounts.

A weekly paper, the Anchorage Press, was told it would have to pay $6,500 for e-mails of Palin and three aides relating to the lieutenant governor. The request was withdrawn, with the newspaper offering the apology. “”Hi Linda – wow, that’s an expensive request I made,” reporter Brendan Joel Kelley wrote to state administrator Linda Perez. “In that case, I definitely don’t want to waste 60 hours of the state’s resources, whether we had the fee waived or not. Consider the request withdrawn. I had supposed/hoped that an electronic records request would be fairly simple.”

A similar situation was settled in Missouri this week. Gov. Matt Blunt agreed to turn over e-mails, at no cost, a year after three news organizations sued for the records. Blunt’s office at first had quoted thousands of dollars in fees for the e-mails about his firing of a deputy general counsel. And in New Jersey earlier this year, a state judge ruled against Gov. Jon Corzine, who wanted to keep private his e-mails with a union leader, his ex-girlfriend. Blunt is a Republican, Corzine a Democrat.

State employees overwhelmed
Since Palin was chosen by McCain, state employees have been overwhelmed by hundreds of public records requests sent to the governor’s office and other agencies, said Kevin Brooks, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Administration. There’s been no attempt to delay release of public records about the governor until after the election, he said. Many records requests have been fulfilled, forming the basis of news stories and online archives such as the one growing at governmentattic.org.

But e-mails have been much slower to emerge through the tight window of nine weeks from Palin’s selection until the election.

“I’ve had my information technology folks working nights and weekends. These people are not doing their regular jobs anymore,” Brooks said. “We used to get several records requests for e-mail in a week, or a month. Now it’s literally hundreds and hundreds. It’s gone exponentially off the charts.”

After msnbc.com challenged apparent double billing, Brooks said he was going to try a new approach: assembling the e-mail files a single time, without charging requestors for that time. But that still leaves the search and copying costs.

“Hindsight is 20-20,” Brooks said. “If we could do it over again, we would have loaded it all up and done these requests.” Still today, he said he was not considering taking a more active approach, posting online for the public all of the governor’s e-mails.

Brooks said he was also rethinking that rate of $73.87 an hour. That cost is not the actual salary of any particular employee. At that rate, an employee would be making about $144,000 a year. Instead, the state has been charging the public and news organizations the same rate that the state Enterprise Technology Services group charges other state departments, as a cost-shifting mechanism on state budget forms.

Alaska law does allow the state to charge for an employee’s time for recovery of records. Brooks said he thought the actual cost would be between $50 and $60 an hour, including benefits and a share of the department’s overhead costs.

As for the estimate of up to five hours to search e-mail for a single word or phrase, Brooks said he was just passing along the estimate from the technical staff.

‘A heckuva lot’ of data
“Why five hours? I’ve asked repeatedly, and that’s what they say it will take,” Brooks said. “We’re talking about 5 terabytes of compressed data. I don’t know what a terabyte is. I just know it’s a heckuva lot.”

Brooks said the state has Outlook on the desktop computers of employees, and that a search of those e-mails would take only a few seconds. But he said most e-mails are on journal servers, which hold e-mail for many employees, and that older or deleted messages might be on archival servers. “The point is we have three sources. We pull from those three and download to a storage device we can search. The process is not simple.”

The courts have given the Palin administration a nudge toward open records. A state judge ruled this week that the state must retrieve public e-mails sent between state accounts and the private e-mail accounts used by the governor and other state employees.

Having a private e-mail account, by itself, is not unusual or unethical, because state employees are forbidden to carry out political activities on government accounts. That’s the reason given for Palin’s habit of punching away on two separate Blackberry devices. But a citizen request earlier this year yielded hundreds of heavily redacted e-mails from the governor’s office, which suggested that Palin and her staff had chosen to move most of their government conversations off the radar, to their Yahoo accounts. News reports then led to public curiosity and the hacking of one of Palin’s Yahoo accounts, for which a college student in Tennessee, the son of a Democratic legislator, has been indicted.

Brooks said the state doesn’t know yet how much e-mail it can recover from Yahoo, in cases where one state employee on a personal account e-mailed another on a personal account.

But the state probably can recover e-mails sent between government and personal e-mail accounts, he said. At least 18 public records requests have been filed for some or all of those e-mails. The requestors include Mother Jones magazine, the AP, NBC, the Anchorage Daily News, the Juneau Empire, msnbc.com, CNN, the Alaska Democratic Party, and several citizens, including Andree McLeod, whose request for the Yahoo e-mails was upheld by the court. Msnbc.com, for example, sought all e-mails sent or received by the governor and a dozen top aides between their state accounts and the personal e-mail accounts of themselves and others. The request included e-mail sent to Palin’s husband, Todd, who has been active in policy and political discussions. The state quoted a price of $11,000 for all the e-mails sought by msnbc.com, which apparently won’t be available until after the election.

To respond to those requests, the state is pulling together all the e-mails sent or received by  51 employees, including Palin, her senior staff, members of the Cabinet, the governor’s assistants and schedulers, and key staff involved with the pipeline proposed to bring natural gas from Alaska’s North Slope, the governor’s office said Thursday. It sought the attorney general’s approval to delay the search of the e-mails until mid-November. Later Thursday, the attorney general, Talis J. Colberg, sent the requestors a letter offering them a chance to be heard before he rules on that request.

‘The hottest thing right now’
Many states have had battles with news organizations and citizens over the fees charged for access to the public’s records, particularly for electronic records such as e-mails.

News organizations have often claimed that the fees are used as a tollbooth to discourage requests, and that requests are delayed until interest in a public issue or candidate has long passed.

Federal law is more favorable. The federal Freedom of Information Act will change in January to penalize agencies for delay. After January, if an agency takes more than 20 days to respond to a request, it can’t charge any duplication fees to individual requestors.

Nationally, access to e-mails of government employees “is the hottest thing right now in open government,” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit that helps journalists obtain public records. “Most judges are interpreting the laws that if you use your private e-mail for state business, that’s a public record.

“Many public officials thought e-mail was more like a phone call, but it’s more like a letter. You type those words, those are like documents. It doesn’t matter if you used a piece of paper from your home or stationery from your office. The form doesn’t matter.”

Gov. Palin’s Office Wants $15 Million For Emails