Monday, September 15, 2008

Sarah Palin's e-mail chicanery (Warning: Political)

I thought we had enough of this from the CURRENT administration, but no.

Palin routinely uses a private Yahoo e-mail account to conduct state business. Others in the governor's office sometimes use personal e-mail accounts, too.

The practice raises questions about backdoor secrecy in an administration that vowed during the 2006 campaign to be "open and transparent."


She is allowed to keep e-mails confidential if they fall into certain categories, such as "deliberative process," said her press secretary, Bill McAllister.


"I don't hear any public clamor for access to internal communications of the governor's office," McAllister said.

No, no, Mr. McAllister, that's not how Public Records Laws work. The question is not whether there IS public clamor for the records; the question is whether there COULD be public clamor, say, I don't know, if she were to run for the Vice Presidency of the United States? Admittedly I have not read the Alaska Public Records Law, but I am reasonably certain that there is not a clause in there that says "unless it would be politically inconvenient." There is a reason these things are in place, you know.

Also, it's pretty clear to me that Gov. Palin and you both know that this is sort of a disingenuous argument at best, seeing as how the whole reason that she would use a Yahoo Account is so her emails wouldn't be trackable by the State of Alaska's email system.

No one in the Palin administration could say if the governor is saving her Yahoo e-mails. If she's emptying her e-mail trash, they are zapped from Yahoo's storage system within days or at the longest, months, Yahoo says.

"If you are asking do we have those e-mails, then the answer is no," said Anand Dubey, director of the state's Enterprise Technology Services. "We don't control Yahoo or Gmail or Hotmail or anything like that."

This to me seems awfully convenient, particularly in the wake of the 1100 emails that WERE on official Alaska servers which were withheld from a FOIA request on the grounds of 'executive privilege.' One has to wonder what is in the emails that aren't technically subject to Alaska public records laws. Except that they are. Unless the Governor's personal attorney says that they aren't. Hmmm.

I don't know. I just think it's very frustrating to give an email seminar in which you instruct people not to send business email from their personal accounts, and then read about a vice-presidential candidate for a major party who specifically instructs HER staff to do just that. It's enough to make a grown records manager cry.

Dean Dawson, state-records manager, is working on an e-mail-archive system for state employees, who tend to want to hang onto e-mail forever, he said. E-mail records should be kept as long as paper records of the same type — for instance, three years for general correspondence, he said. Top executives such as commissioners and the governor often must keep records longer, under state schedules.

Introducing Dean Dawson, ladies and gentlemen! The man with the most thankless job in the state of Alaska. (I would say 'in the United States', except you have to contend also with Missouri's records manager... or Texas's records manager... or the guy at NARA who has to archive the emails of the Bush Administration... Ah, right, this is why I am not working for the U.S. government!)


Ben Wright said...

On account of Open Records Acts, state governments are wise to insist that employees (including governors) route all business e-mail through a central e-mail archive and to encourage employees to take all personal e-mail to personal accounts. --Ben

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Mike said...

Email is the great way of managing your personal records. Yahoo, Gmail provides lot of good facilities of record management like you can make different kinds of label for different e-mails. I , myself also kept my private records in email only in different kinds of label like I keep bank details in Bank records label etc...It really helps me lot in managing and then searching records easily..
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