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McClatchy Newspapers, Published June 01 2011

Alaska getting ready to release Palin emails

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The state of Alaska is about to release more than 24,000 pages of Sarah Palin's emails from her time as governor. But officials are also going to withhold another 2,415 pages the state deems privileged, personal or otherwise exempt from Alaska's disclosure laws.

News organizations and individuals requested the Palin emails under Alaska's public records law more than two years ago when she was running for vice president.

The messages are finally now about to be released as the former governor contemplates a bid for the presidency. State officials expect to send the emails to a commercial printer to be copied this week, a process that is estimated to take about four days.

Copies of the emails will then be shipped in boxes from Juneau to the people and news agencies who requested them, said Linda Perez, Gov. Sean Parnell's administrative director.

It remains to be seen how many of the released emails are going to be at least partially blacked out. State lawyers reviewed printouts of each email and suggested which emails — or which portions of emails — to withhold. Gov. Sean Parnell's office made the final decisions.

Perez on Tuesday contacted the organizations and individuals who requested the records and let them know that some emails would be withheld or redacted. She said they have the option of filing an administrative appeal of the decision or seeking an injunction in Superior Court.

News organizations that requested the records include the Anchorage Daily News, the Associated Press, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and CNN. Individuals include Geoffrey Dunn, author of the recently published book "The Lies of Sarah Palin," and Andree McLeod of Anchorage, who has had ethics complaints against Palin dismissed by the state.

McLeod has pointed out that Perez and Parnell's chief of staff, Mike Nizich, held the same positions during the Palin administration as they do under Parnell.

"I don't hold out much hope that all of these emails haven't been scrubbed of any incriminating information," she said Tuesday.

Perez said emails were redacted and withheld based on the right to privacy afforded by the state constitution as well as legal justifications established in court cases over Alaska public records law. That includes attorney-client privilege and the state's right to withhold records considered "deliberative process," meaning internal discussions of policy that happen before a decision is made.

Perez said the state will provide a "privilege log" that describes the reason each of the records was withheld or redacted.

Each of those who requested the documents will be required to pay $725.97 in copying fees. They'll also have to pay hundreds of dollars more for the state to ship them what's expected to be about five boxes of copied emails, the boxes weighing about 55 pounds apiece.

McLeod also said she's not sure how she's going to pay for her copies of the records, and is calling for the state to make them available in Anchorage so she doesn't have to pay to have her copies of the emails shipped from Juneau.

The state says it is providing printed copies because it doesn't have the software to electronically redact information from emails.

The Palin emails were first requested in the 2008 campaign season. State officials said they weren't prepared for requests for such huge amounts of data stored in antiquated electronic databases. They also said fulfilling the requests was made more difficult by the fact that Palin commonly used a Yahoo account to conduct state business, rather than her official state email account.

Technicians searched for those records by sifting through email accounts of more than 50 state employees, including Cabinet members, executive staff and close aides, to look for emails Palin sent or received from her personal account.