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Election 2010: There’s Only One Road to Transparency in Alaska…


In June of 2009 I embarked on an idealistic journey. Thanks to many Alaskans and folks across the country, I was able to raise enough money so that the State of Alaska would release the Records Request they had been sitting on for months. When the emails arrived and the only “good stuff” was redacted  or witheld due to bogus-sounding claims of “privilege,” I was not worried. I was sure that as soon as the email lawsuits brought by Andree McLeod and Don Mitchell against Palin were resolved (in McLeod/Mitchell’s favor…no one thought otherwise), I would then be able to go to court and get the emails the State had held out.

I was wrong.

The same week that SCOTUS made the horrific decision in the now-infamous Citizen’s United CaseJudge Patrick McKay made a similar type of decision with far-reaching implications  for a (lack-of) transparency and accountability among Alaska government officials. Allowing private (and therefore un-archived) email accounts to be used for State business gives Alaska politicians authorization to hide their activities from the public. Judge McKay refused to reconsider his position and this was a terrible blow for Alaska’s already long-suffering “sunshine” laws.

But it got worse.

McLeod/Mitchell’s case against Palin’s claim of “privilege” based on “deliberative process” to justify witholding emails when private citizen, Todd Palin, was among the recipients also went terribly wrong. The same judge, Patrick McKay ruled that it was OK to count Todd Palin as an (unofficial) advisor — he then also denied an appeal.  This allowed privilege to extend and Palin to keep the emails from the public.  This ruling was made in spite of the fact that the way Todd skated out of Troopergate trouble was when Tim Petumenos claimed he was a private citizen.

(NOTE TO THE READERS: Judge Patrick McKay is up for a retention vote in just 12 short days — this is the same guy that got his second DUI this year.)

The decisions in these two cases taken together dashed any hopes I had of trying to get the emails I was looking for through the courts. One of the very sticky issues that quashes public activism…the fact that Alaska is a state that punishes the person who loses a lawsuit. The loser must pay the court/legal fees of the winners.  With these two case rulings now in place, the risk was far too great.

During Palin’s reign as Mayor and then Governor, her lack of transparency (along with her lack of ethics) became legendary. However, her much quieter successor is no better. On October 5th, the State of Alaska sent out a 14TH REQUEST FOR AN EXTENSION ON A RECORDS REQUEST FILED TWO YEARS AGO:

Every one of Palin’s appointees who held up the records requests in the past are still in place…including those folks at Department of Law who take all of that time to redact everything. 

While it’s true that Senator Johnny Ellis has a Bill in the Senate Rules Committee which deals with the private email issue as well as several others, everything would be made easier with a change in leadership. No matter how you feel about politics in Alaska regarding the gasline, education, family violence, the PFD, etc…there is one thing for certain — Sean Parnell has proven he will continue to hold up any information that he or Sarah Palin does not want to reach the public.   The only way to change that is to vote for Ethan Berkowitz and Diane Benson for Governor and Lt. Governor.

Yes, it’s just that easy.



66 Responses to “Election 2010: There’s Only One Road to Transparency in Alaska…”
  1. BearWoman says:

    I hate to be the pessimist, and maybe someone above was, but you will not get the e-mails you are looking for even if Ethan and Diane win. There was a long tradition starting before Palin came to office of not saving e-mails in printed or electronic form. You know these folks have had a long time to purge files, and rest assured, if by some miracle Ethan and Diane win, there will be very little in the way of written documentation anywhere. The election is in November, the handover of power is not until January.

    • jojobo1 says:

      You may be right it is easy to think something may happen,about the e-mails but harder to actually do, the palins have an attorney who can hold this up for years as can your current governor sp2

  2. Algionfriddo says:

    Check out the latest comment by Rachael Maddow re: the current Senate race in Alaska…
    Great stuff…
    I won’t be up on her site for another hour or so. At least wait until 8pm PDT or so.
    Hopefully this works. It’s about 18 min in to tonight’s broadcast.

    • Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

      It’s pretty great to get attention to this race, and Scott McAdams! Thank you Rachel-Wan-Maddow!

      Although Nate Silver is the single pollster I trust, I listened to the whole segment and he does not have the local knowledge to understand the independent vote. Nate kept referring to the “independent’ vote, meaning registered Undeclareds and Nonpartisans, splitting the vote evenly to give Scott a chance to win. He said if Miller does much more imploding, ALL of his deserters go to Murkowski and she goes out of reach. He opines that if the three candidates all stay close, that give McAdams time to get up to where they are.

      That’s just not true.

      So man of the polls are misleading, so I doubt their accuracy. Esp. the CNN one with Miller gaining points – sure, whatever, epic fail on that poll. I believe Scott is much closer already. And the big one is that as Miller crashes harder, the Dems and Us and Ns so inclined are going back to their desired vote, and dumping the fear vote. So Nate is wrong there – he just keeps counting registered Democrats. He referred to the “independents” as centrists and moderates.

      The good news – McAdams gains by the day as people meet him, and he’s closer than any of these polls show. He’s in Fairbanks today with a goal to introduce himself to 1000 people by handshake at the AFN gathering. Go Scott!

  3. Moose Pucky says:

    Here’s a little something from Scout on the Open Thread. Really belongs in this thread also. Another fine example of shady stuff within the Parnell administration.

    scoutNo Gravatar says:
    October 21, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    “Democrats threaten to sue over write-in lists”
    ………….“One Chugiak voter, Rob Sterling, said Thursday that workers at the Chugiak Senior Center voting site behaved questionably when he went to vote early Thursday. He said he asked election workers for help on how to select a write-in candidate.
    Sterling said an election worker showed and told him where on the ballot he could write in Lisa Miller’s name in the Senate race. Another election worker told him that he could provide a list of write-in candidates if Sterling needed it, he said.” (my sic)………….

  4. Moose Pucky says:

    Thumbs down to McKay, indeed.

  5. Lower48 says:

    This may be waaaaay to much transparency here, but this will really drop your collective jaws… or not:

    William “Bill” Fulton, owner of DropZone, the ‘security firm’ (cough-cough) that had the reporter arrested at Joe Millers Public / Private Town Hall Meeting last weekend communicating with Alaska Citizens Militia membership on their google groups board.: his username is bob bob, but he always signs his posts as “DropzoneBill.”


    He says that it “looks like its going to be real bad for us though any support is welcome – (signed) DropzoneBill ”

    The Alaska Daily News has already confirmed this guy has links to the ACM. If you click on his profile, you can see he is not a casual user, but a regular. In fact, the groups “Moderator & Commander”, Norm Olson – yes, THAT Norm Olson, he of the Michigan Militia and Timothy McVeigh fame – urges membership to patronize DropZone:


    Post from NORM OLSON: (dated 09-22-2010)

    “I have authorized and have URGED Dropzone to advertise it’s equipment resources on the Alaska Citizens Militia forum. I urge everyone to buy, sell, “looking to buy”, on the forum.

    This forum is used for NETWORKING. If you have resources that you want to sell, or if you are looking to buy, please advertise here. Better to sell to a fellow patriot than to throw your money away on the left-wing, liberal money-grubbers that infest most resource outlets.

    Norm Olson, Moderator”

  6. Millie says:

    Ethan and Diane already have my vote…absentee ballot went out in the mail yesterday!!

    We so need Parnell out of the office for which he was never elected!

    And, Linda, I have so much respect for you!

  7. I'd Rather Not Say... says:

    We can only hope that Ethan –after he loses for the third straight time in a statewide election– will stop running for office. One of the many problems we Alaska Democrats face within our party is a sense of entitlement within the same sorry few politicians who run and then lose every election cycle. They take turns running, raising money, and then getting smoked by their Republican opponents. perhaps we need to close our primary so that we end up with candidates that can actually win.

    The only way Ethan Berkowitz will win the governorship is if he releases an unforged video of Parnell having gay sex at a black mass. While burying a dead hooker. In the parking lot of the ABT.

  8. Martha says:

    Great post Linda! Good to see you solidly “in the game”.

    I don’t know if you realize just how important you are to the folks of Alaska.

    I refer to you you, Shannyn and Jeanne as the Alaskan political trifecta.

    It isn’t that the three of you are simply appreciated for what you do, it is rather that what you do is essential as the analysis of local, state and federal politics for the citizenry.

    Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it.

    Politics could not BE more toxic, on EVERY level, at this time in history.

    Thank you for what you do.

  9. Dagian says:

    *off-topic alert!*

    Sarah Palin has just declared that NPR should be “defunded”.

    “Muslim terrorists have killed thousands of Americans and continue to plot the deaths of thousands more? Are we not allowed to say that there are Muslim states that aid and abet these fanatics? Are we not allowed to even debate the role that radical Islam plays in inciting this violence?
    If NPR is unable to tolerate an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism, then it’s time for “National Public Radio” to become “National Private Radio.” It’s time for Congress to defund this organization.”

    Here’s one person’s response:

    “OK, then let’s end all the subsidies that Fox, Clear Channel and all the other networks get when their advertisers get tax write-offs for advertising erectile dysfunction drugs, insurance, hemmorhoid creams and anything else. The “for profit” radio and TV networks are subsidized by our tax dollars far more than NPR. Time to cut them off the public gravy train as well.”

    Yeah. What that person said.

    (Purple prose thought bubble re: $arah)

    • ks sunflower says:

      D0-dah, what a great comment about the indirect subsidies that Fox and others get.

    • Valley_Independent says:

      NPR gives a much more complete and unbiased view of the news than the other stations. I look forward to the news from other countries about events happening there, and about events happening here from their perspective.

      I am glad they still have some journalistic standards – something I often find sorely lacking at Faux News, and often in its US-based competitors, as well.

      Palin wouldn’t recognize and certainly wouldn’t be able to participate in any meaningful debate on the issues of terrorism or middle-east politics. She simply is too narrow and shallow in her knowledge and world view. Perhaps NPR should sponsor a debate on the ugly behavior she incites and ways to counteract it?

      • Baker's Dozen says:

        Give her a blank map and have her find and label the Islamic States–spelling counts. Oh, and their leader/leaders, as well as the types of Muslims that live there, their basic tenants on jihad and towards the West, and their major imports/exports.
        Nah. We’ll stop with labeling the countries. She won’t be able to do that.

    • beth says:

      Thing of it is, her panties are probably in a wad because NPR ‘de-hired’ Juan Williams for his latest comments on, and continuing contributions to, FOX ‘NEWS’. As NPR made perfectly clear when they took their action, Juan’s statements were (are) *not* compatible with the editorial positions held by/of NPR — or their standards.

      Sorry, $arah: Condoning/excusing BillO’s Islamophobia (as Juan did) was *not*, and IS *not*, “an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism”. Far from it…it is just FOX going about its usual modus operandi of foxing more saps into thinking that what the ‘newscasters’ and ‘personalities’ on the station say, is factual, honest, and totally above board. The only “honest debate” anyone should be having about FOX NEWS is how soon the FCC should pull its license for gross malfeasance to, and incredible negligence of, the American public’s expectation of decency and honesty from broadcasters.

      NPR made their position *very* clear; it’s even posted on their website — if she’d bothered to read it/check it out, she’d know *why* they felt it was time to set Juan free (to devote himself to FOX or wherever his heart takes him). Researching and getting facts *before* shooting off her mouth has never been one of her strong suits, though. beth.

      –She does realize, doesn’t she, that NPR/PBS is *also* paid for by listener donations to the stations made during pledge drives? And by endowments from individuals/trusts? And. And. And. What a maroon she is…and moran also, too. b.–

      • Valley_Independent says:

        Well said. No – I don’t think she does realize, because to realize, she’d have to actually listen, and if she listened on a regular basis, she’d be a lot smarter.

    • dreamgirl says:

      Palin should be the spokesperson for Valtrex, she’s the gift that won’t stop giving and her ‘eruptions’ are painful to logical thinkers.

      I didn’t know advertisers get tax write-offs for advertising… how does that work?

  10. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    And don’t forget how Parnell snubbed our President on behalf of all Alaskans. This one makes me want to go looking for dog poo to fling at him.

  11. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    “Details of Parnell’s Focus visit remain fuzzy”

    Lots more.

  12. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    Parnell is too churchy for me. Not that I care if it’s his personal life only, but it’s not. I am quite sure that he does not believe in the separation between church and state and I’m getting really tired of these politicians foisting their crap on the rest of us and using state funds to do so. Palin crossed that line in a hundred ways, but no one really paid attention until she was on her little mission outside to get her finger on the red button. Parnell is quieter about it, but just as bad.

    Get their religion out of state politics – vote Berkowitz & Benson.

  13. jojobo1 says:

    But are there not observers when counting votes?

  14. just sayin' says:

    and WHO is going to control the machine and count those votes? talk about tentacles…

  15. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    Good write up Linda – this is so frustrating! However, your work and pressure to release information is not in vain. You are planting seeds – others will follow with labels, hoes, water and food. It’s a process. Keep us informed on how we can apply pressure and help this process. Thank you for all of the work and funds you put into this!

  16. marguita mixxe says:

    I am voting no for McKay and yes for Ethan. Oh and I am a republican, have been all my life. But anything attached to palin has to go .

    • Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

      It’s McAdams. Once you meet him, the name is stuck forever! And his sense of humor just adds to his smarts – this guy is sharp.

      “…But I’m not sure what to make of his McMedia strategy.

      …A press release dropped into my inbox on Wednesday: “McAdams Reaches McMillion Dollar Mark.” Kind of cute, actually, except that it wasn’t the campaign’s first play on McWords. On Oct. 13, it was “McAdams Raises the Most McMoney”.

      So, McAdams campaign, I take it back. Go for the McJokes. But if you’re going to go for it, really go for it. McOwn it!

    • Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

      I am so sorry! I now see McKay as Judge McKay – I obviously didn’t have enough coffee. My other excuse is that I have the damn McBug after reading the Dispatch article and now any Mc is a McAdams Mc. Thanks Alaska Dispatch – NOT! I don’t McKnow what to McDo now to get McRid of it.

  17. Moose Pucky says:

    The Parnell administration definitely needs to go. Transparency and ethics will only improve in Alaska with a change of administration. From elections, to the Board of Game, to funding priorities, to ferries, to health care, to education–all would be improved if Alaska moves forward.

    • scout says:

      If Parnell had ethics he would have signed the Republican Dear John letter to Gestapo joe. He’s simply the quieter version of $P: SP 2.0

      One thing the bitter quitter does exceptionally well is wreak havoc wherever she goes.
      Exhibit A: GOP vs TP mudfest of the century

      “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln (Matthew 12:25)

      Transparency and Ethics in Government = Scott McAdams

  18. All I Saw says:

    I can see how any judge in this Great State would have a drinking problem.

    The depth and character of the corruption in Alaska is astounding, Palin didn’t invent it but she sure as hell accelerated it.

  19. ks sunflower says:

    Great post, Linda!

    I hope more people read and respond to it because this is the type of issue that many voters simply do not grasp: the people closest to you affect you the most. It’s grand to get excited about Presidential politics – and administrations do have significant impact on our lives as a people and as individuals – but it is the offices such as judges, mayors, council people, state legislators, et cetera that have a daily impact on what’s happening in our communities, counties and state.

    It sounds as if you are being impacted by the leftovers who have burrowed deep into the folds of government. G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney made sure they burrowed (the words of their operatives) people into the civil service of various agencies before they left office and where those little worms still are, affecting policy and regulations every single day. If you wonder why some things have not changed at all or have been slowed down to almost a stop, then look into who is charged with reviewing change or implementing change — you will no doubt find appointees who have presto-change-o transformed themselves in burrowed-in little mites who can effectively prevent change.

    That’s why, as you point out, it is important for everyone to look to those close at hand who can interpret, change or slow down change. The judge you mentioned should be voted out of office for many reasons – that he has been convicted of two DUIs is a truly important one because he could be impaired in his judgment – but also because he is obstructing transparency for seemingly political reasons. I doubt if the case could be pushed above him if his rulings would stand. However, these folks know how to game the system because they know the average person can only afford so much justice (should say afford to pursue justice only so far), so they time you out, put up paper roadblocks that eat up money and wear you out.

    Thank you, Linda, for the fight you’ve fought thus far, but you should not have to do this alone. Even if others cannot afford to help, even if attorneys cannot take this cause on pro bono, at least every person who supports your views, who respects what you have tried to accomplish, should be able to vote against those who have impeded the path to truth.

    So vote, people. Please. We cannot undo the past, but we can affect the future. Vote against those you know to have been against your best interests and vote for those who are trying to create a better way of governing.

    • jojobo1 says:

      We all learned how palin got in.Starting from the bottom.The fundamentalist said they will take over and they say to start in the school boards and city or village councils and move up to mayors ect.and that’s just what happened with palin and look where that put us.People forget about these local elections and they are and can be just as important as the big ones as evidenced by Linda and what has happened to the release of public records being held back,

    • Carol says:

      Being relatively new to blogging, I wonder how much reach the mudflats gets. So many of these issues I see addressed and ground thru here, I never see in the other media. Maybe they are, in fact, lamestream. Besides donating to candidates, talking with people, working phone banks, how can the messages get out?Not that I’m suggesting that the above actions be curtailed.

      • ks sunflower says:

        Welcome. This is a great online community. The mudflats has readers and responders from around the world. Look over on the right sandwiched beneath the beautiful ad featuring blue flowers and just above the Mudflats Twitter widget, and you will find a nice little widget that displays Daily Visits From Around the Globe, Impressive, right?

        Almost all of the US and much of Canada is represented, plus dare I forget Ireland? Oh, no, Irishgirl will come after me for sure. She is one of our most beloved responders. Actually, so many people from so many places drop in on a regular basis, I hope AKM will discuss the depth and breath of visitors one day soon.

        Gosh, I could go on and on, but the more you are here, Carol, the more you will find yourself coming to the mudflats. It is addictive because of its high quality of blog posts from AKM and her carefully selected posters and the really exciting level of civil discourse and sharing of information.

        These folks are do-ers as well. They don’t just sit, read and comment. They make a difference. So glad you are joining in. This really is one of the most influential and informative blogs on politics on the local, state and national level. Plus, we get treated to great photography as well that lifts our spirits when things get too crazy!

      • Valley_Independent says:

        You can always help to expand the reach by sending email with links to the site to anyone and everyone you think could benefit from the perspective shared here. Put them on your Facebook page if you have one. Continue doing all the great things you have listed. Write letters to the editor, as well. They need to know what they’re missing that you want to see covered.

        • beth says:

          Another thing to remember – although this site focuses mainly on AK politics, what goes on in AK goes on in the other 49 states, too. There are great folks doing great things and no-good-rotters doing horrible things in all 50 state’s political maneuverings and/or machinations. It’s the latter group we’ve all got to watch out for.

          AKM and her guest writers point out what is going on in Alaska, and it’s up to us non-AKers to keep an eye out on our *local* politicians to make sure they aren’t pulling the same kinds of stunts. This site makes readers more aware of the possibilities for hijinx and asshattery some politicians –no matter their location– are wont to participate in.

          It *might* be true that: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, but it is *absolutely* true that: “A variation of what happens in Alaska politics, happens all over.” beth.

          • dreamgirl says:

            What beth said. I’m in Chicago, found The Mudflats while trying to find more info about $arah, and I really enjoy AKM, her guest contributors and the insights and humor of beth and all the other posters.

            I have also donated to Scott McAdams campaign for senator as he is the right man for the job. If he wins his election I will celebrate with all Mudpups new and old and for Alaska.

            Carol, another informative and fun site to visit is The Immoral Minority, Gryphen is the writer and he is just as passionate about Alaska. Glad you found this wonderful site. This place makes me feel sane as most ‘news’ stations are owned by corporations who seem to just report what they think we should see or know. (during the presidential campaigns I was steamed that there was no coverage on the news stations regarding the racial epithets and ‘kill him’ yells, about Obama, from the crowds at the Palin/McCain rallys. The only place I found the videos were sites like this one. Thank you AKM)

      • Irishgirl says:

        Welcome Carol,

        Mudflats has a large reach. It is regularly featured on Huffington Post and mentioned by Andrew Sullivan. I’ve been a regular follower for over two years now and I can’t remember once instance where AKM has had to retract a statement. Also too, you get the news here days before the MSM.

        Remember too the MSM has a vested interest in perpetuating untruths…they are all about the money.

        Just keep on doing what you are doing and fighting the good fight.

      • leenie17 says:

        In the 2 years I’ve been visiting the flats, I’ve seen a tremendous growth in the activism of mudpups. Not only do we discuss Alaskan politics, but we encourage each other to become involved on both a national and local level, and share opportunities to do so. We support each other and give each other those little nudges we all need now and then to make our voices heard.

        The Mudflats community has grown way beyond the Alaskan borders and provides a wonderful place to share thoughts and ideas, celebrate happy moments, vent about frustrations, and send virtual hugs when facing challenges or personal sorrows.

        I only occasionally comment on one other blog but I’ve found a place here at the flats where I can express myself and learn about so many different things including and beyond politics. Make yourself comfy, take your shoes off, pop some popcorn and stay a while! 🙂

  20. beth says:

    [[LKB –might you want to redact the street and email addresses for McLeod and possibly Dunn? If the addresses listed for them are strictly for business [ie – not home/personal — are totally separate], that’s one thing; if not, it’s another. The other addressees are for-sure public figures whose info can be obtained by doing the Googles for their respective places of employment, but… Just a thought/concern. beth.]]

  21. obdewl x says:

    This is the attitude I have voted against since 1972. No politician seems to want to mandate clarity on anything. Pay as you go politics, all parties included. Whats a poor boy to do?

  22. Bretta says:

    I always wonder – when reading items such as this – how $Palin got so much dirt on everyone that she can control them through the kind of fear exhibited by the judge. $owah has tentacles far and wide. Or am I ascribing to her too much power?

    • jojobo1 says:

      I don’t think it is dirt I think it is job protection and threats by the palins of what they could and would do.Should never happen but it does.

  23. Zyxomma says:

    When I started reading this I wondered whether or not Alaskans, like New Yorkers, vote for judges. Thanks, Linda, you answered my question in your post.

    I opened my mail yesterday and received information on how to use the new voting scanner machines. I didn’t need it. I voted in the primary, as I always do, and used it for the first time then.

    Turnout is crucial, all over the country. VOTE!!!

  24. Polly says:

    All of this subterfuge has been going on forever. Sarah Palin has brought the tea party extremists out of hiding all over the country. Parnell may be a Sarah clone, or he may be afraid. He’s bought into the game either way.

    Berkowitz/Benson are the only answer to the problem.

  25. Alaska Pi says:

    As someone who is not all that comfortable with our Constitution’s strong faith in the executive branch ( I really, really want us to have an elected Attorney General amongst other things ) I want to bounce NON- open and transparent governor’s out on their ears…
    Mr Parnell is not open and transparent…
    Well, excepting the part where it is transparent that he is not…

  26. jwa says:

    For those who say they are concerned about the direction our country is going (referring to President Obama) I point to things like this and say that this is REALLY a threat to our continued democratic system of accountability. it seems like the only way to combat this is the ultimate solution of voting bad officials out of office. And that even becomes increasingly hard with rulings that allow the moneyed interests to spend unlimited amounts of $$ to influence the very elections that might be our salvation.

  27. Dagian says:

    *jaw hits ground*

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