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September 27, 2021

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The Palin Administration’s $64,000 Question.

64000

So, what’s the $64,000 question?  Ethics watchdog Linda Kellen Biegel just asked it, apparently.  She made a State of Alaska records request to find out what kind of communication has been going on between the governor’s office, right-wing shock jock Eddie Burke, and Anchorage Daily News gossip columnist Sheila Toomey.

After Bill McAllister, Palin’s communication director said in a state press release that he “hoped there would be backlash” against those filing ethics complaints, there started to be….well…backlash against those filing ethics complaints.  Go figure.

And it started to manifest in interesting ways.  See HERE and HERE.  Was there direct communication with the governor’s office regarding these issues?  There’s really only one way to find out – a records request.  Here’s what she asked for:

Pursuant to Alaska Statute 40.25.110, I request the Office of the Governor to duplicate and provide me with a copy of: 1) any and all email contact between you or any employee of the Office of the Governor (statewide) and Alaska resident Eddie Burke,

2) any and all emails to/from you or any employee of the Office of the Governor (statewide) that discuss Eddie Burke in any way,

3) any and all records requests submitted which target emails to or from Alaska resident Andree McLeod, and

4) a fee breakdown, invoice or any other document which assesses the cost of retrieving the McLeod emails and whether those fees have been/will be charged to the requester.

To find out this information regarding Burke and Toomey will apparently cost….
$65,709. OK, so think of it as the $64,000 question, and change.

For more interesting details on this unfolding intrigue, read the post just up on Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis.

Comments

comments

Comments
79 Responses to “The Palin Administration’s $64,000 Question.”
  1. ValleyIndependent says:

    The City of Wasilla processed a huge number of records requests after the announcement of the VP nomination. As far as I know, they were all handled fairly quickly, and I’d be surprised if the whole lot of them brought in $64 K to the city’s coffers to offset costs. Essentially, the city’s IT department is two out-sourced technicians.

    There was also a fairly massive records request related to former Mayor Keller’s administration’s efforts to assist Meritage Development and the resulting ethics investigation.

    I’d sure like to know more about how the city’s volume of records requests and associated charges compare to those of the state.

  2. loreenwl says:

    @ Dr. Patois
    Thanks for pointing me to Sheila Toomey’s photo. Not the same person I knew. Thank goodness. I would hate to think my old friend turned into someone I did not recognize.

  3. Dr. Patois says:

    NMJ says:
    You can make a “TinyURL” out of a long link here:

    http://tinyurl.com/create.php?url=about%3Ablank

    Thanks NMJ!

  4. Say NO to Palin in Politics says:

    from the same article I just posted……..

    “Croft and Palin argue that the governor should have referred the Renkes matter to the personnel board in October, immediately after a newspaper story reported Renkes’ stock holdings, rather than waiting until December, when he received a formal complaint from Palin and Croft. The two said Murkowski should not have hired Anchorage attorney Robert Bundy to investigate, as he did in October.”

  5. Say NO to Palin in Politics says:

    Also too, revisit articles when Palin did this to Murkoski……..

    http://www.adn.com/news/government/renkes/story/42200.html

    “Palin on Friday again criticized the governor’s initial response to the Renkes revelations and said she suspected that someone in the governor’s office pressured the board to say explicitly that Murkowski had not violated ethics act procedures.”

  6. Say NO to Palin in Politics says:

    Diva…….you should contact those in the pre election media to see if they ever got their emails they asked for, and to see how much they were charged, and to see if any explanation on how the cost of charges were determined. See if it anything consistent, to see if it’s even close to the “explanation for your charges”. We know they make these things up as they love winging it. I’d also check into how other states are charging, compare prices and compare methods used.

    Did the national Dem party ever request any records? I can’t remember.

  7. Irishgirl says:

    Best of luck to you, Celtic Diva!! 🙂

  8. sjk from the belly of the plane says:

    Palins “NSF-FOIA—-Not So Free Freedom of Information Act”.

  9. NY Dem says:

    Unbelievable ! This sounds like a typical Republican ploy to circumvent a written law. Something like George Bush used to pull.

    Obviously, sarah has something (many things) to hide, that is the reason for the huge money request, that not even Warren Buffett would pay, and HE can afford it !

  10. honestyinGov says:

    I know that this is not Rex Butler’s expertise/field…. but I’ll bet he could come up with some names of Attorneys who might look into this…?
    An Attorney who has to live in Alaska and has to live under the Rule of this ‘village idiot’…?
    Gryphen, Celtic Diva, and AKM…. put some feelers out there…. you never know who might be listening and watching. And their name would get a LOT of Press, Statewide and Nationally. Good for their business. Can you say ‘pro-bono’.

  11. Ratfish says:

    Open, transparent- only if you afford to force Palin to disclose!

    This is simply more BS from Palin and her henchmen/women. There is software available now to do e-mail account searches, to electronically redact information if it should not be disclosed, etc. A company making the software offered it to the state when Palin tried to extort millions out of various media sources when they filed PUBLIC RECORD disclosure requests.

    Other administrations did not do this- otherwise you would have heard similar complaints, especially from Palin if Frank Murkowski had tried to pull a stunt like this.

  12. Part of the request already includes a search for whether Sheila and/or Eddie did records requests on Andree.

    I also want to than you guys a LOT! I used some of your ideas in the response I crafted to Linda Perez. THANK YOU!!!!

    Linda

  13. sjk from the belly of the plane says:

    at c4peeeee they’ll say, “sarah is supporting Ak revenue by charging the ankle biters for their annoying requests”..

    FOIA is NOT a for profit endeavor. I think…

  14. sjk from the belly of the plane says:

    $64K to search thru a few dozen mail archives? That is good work if ya can get it!

  15. Cammie says:

    I can see by your posts that none of you have ever been involved in a law suit where e-mails were searched. I was and I requested information from e-mails of six months and had to pay $50,000…all I got was 3 e-mails that said nothing that helped me.
    A major part of my fee was the lawyer reviewing all the e-mails and then both lawyers reviewing the found e-mails. When the other side said they only found three if we wanted to contest that it would have been even more. Unless you think there is really something there it is a big waste of time and money.

  16. mlaiuppa says:

    When you consider that Palin was OK with victims paying for their rape kits, $65,000 isn’t that out of line. She’s just passing on the cost of the annual salary for the person doing the search and the cost of the annual contract for the photocopy machine that will be used to the person making the request. Probably throwing in the cost of a brand new computer too. And a few reams of paper.

  17. Irishgirl says:

    Didn’t Sheila Toomey tell Celtic Diva that she submitted a request for Andree’s email?
    I think this is worth following up!

  18. austintx says:

    60 curiouser Says:
    May 23rd, 2009 at 7:29 AM
    #56 Irishgirl Says:
    May 23rd, 2009 at 3:19 AM

    I’m just wondering how much it cost Sheila Toomey to get that e-mail about Andree? Seems as if they were able to process that request fairly fast!!

    —————-

    Excellent point! This could be the beginning of quite a lovely scandal.
    ************************************************
    How long ?? Oh……..in the time it takes to read and type our 3 posts.

  19. curiouser says:

    #56 Irishgirl Says:
    May 23rd, 2009 at 3:19 AM

    I’m just wondering how much it cost Sheila Toomey to get that e-mail about Andree? Seems as if they were able to process that request fairly fast!!

    —————-

    Excellent point! This could be the beginning of quite a lovely scandal.

  20. sjk from the belly of the plane says:

    transparent? you betcha! put a quarter in the “machine” and watch all you want. Bring LOTS of quarters…Kinda like a crooked state fair Iron Claw game that you just cant win.

  21. Tewise says:

    They were several rulings out of the higher courts addressing (excessive fees) this issue. I don’t have time to research, so if anyone with time on their hands might turn up something interesting. I would be surprised if this has not already been covered in prior administrations. States will differ than others, not sure if the mighty courts have covered this. But of course goober head don’t care what the courts say, she wants it her way. Something like this is what is going to bring her down, ignorance of the law is no excuse. As the law looks at it “doesn’t matter if you don’t know, you should have known.”

  22. WakeUpAmerica says:

    Being the short-sorted person she is (is that why she wears glasses), Palin obviously has not given one thought as to how this will come back to bite her in the butt if she tries to run for a national office. I don’t see America accepting fees like this for FOIA material. I can picture the Swift Boat ads now.

  23. Irishgirl says:

    I’m just wondering how much it cost Sheila Toomey to get that e-mail about Andree? Seems as if they were able to process that request fairly fast!!

  24. Robin says:

    This is absurd beyond belief, and it makes sense only in palinland.

    I have filed dozens of FOIA requests, and paid nothing-or a pittance-for anything due to the “public interest” exclusion.

    If Diva didn’t have me blocked I could give her some useful advice.

  25. strangelet says:

    Okay, AKM, this is almost OT, but where the hell did you find a frame of the isolation booth? That’s from MY childhood.

  26. mlaiuppa says:

    I’d certainly like to know the fee breakdown of that.

    What are they charging for photocopies? $150 a page? And the hourly rate for the clerk? $250 an hour?

  27. Juliette says:

    I am sure, in the past, there have been people who have requested e-mail searches from past governor administrations. There are enough reputable Alaskan blogs who could find out this information by placing a notice at their blog sites. “If anyone has ever requested e-mail or records searches from the State of Alaska during the beginning of Palin’s administration or during Murkowski’s and Knowles administraion, please let us know how you were charged for those searches?”

    Also, why would the IT people have to work an excessive amount of hours performing their jobs to produce these e-mails and records? It shouldn’t take very long. To me it sounds like the State IT people aren’t qualified to perform their duties in a timely manner, and maybe the State could find people who know how to perform searches more efficiently.

    Possibly this information could show what the norm is, and if Palin is out of line, as usual.

  28. NMJ says:

    Dr. Patois Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 10:19 PM

    Okay, “it” doesn’t want to accept the big google link.

    You can make a “TinyURL” out of a long link here:

    http://tinyurl.com/create.php?url=about%3Ablank

  29. Dr. Patois says:

    loreenwl@46 I don’t know if this is the right Sheila Toomey but I found it on google images. Okay, “it” doesn’t want to accept the big google link. Just go to Google and type in Sheila Toomey and click on images and I believe it is the first image shown.

  30. KateinCanada says:

    Isn’t there a short time frame- like 48 hours – to be searched? Andree emailed to ask a question and her email was forewarded and published in the media the following day?

  31. loreenwl says:

    I hope someone can answer my question about Sheila Toomey. If this is the Sheila Toomey I knew, I can’t pretend to have any influence on her thinking any more. Given what she is doing and the insanity that has come to Alaska politics, maybe no one can. I would certainly like to ask her what she thinks she’s doing. Nicely of course.

  32. 56degreesN says:

    Or we could each take a week or month, and make individual requests!

  33. NMJ says:

    Sunshinereview.org posted Alaska’s Transparency report card:

    A 2008 study, BGA – Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Alaska #40 in the nation with an overall percentage of 45.20%.

    A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Alaska 3 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of “F”, and a ranking of 48 out of the 50 states.

    A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Alaska’s law as the 48th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of “F”.

    AKM – Will WikiFOIA be having another Sunshine Blogger Project?

    http://wikifoia.pbworks.com/Sunshine%20Blogger%20Project

    Any and all bloggers–especially bloggers who cover state-level politics–are cordially invited to participate in the Sunshine Blogger Project in February-March 2008.

    The goal of the project is to find out whether America’s governors properly archive the e-mail that comes into and goes out of their offices, and are able to provide copies of those e-mails when members of the public request them.

  34. loreenwl says:

    Can anyone here point me to bio information and/or a photo of Sheila Toomey? Reason is I think she is someone I used to know and worked with. If so, I am stunned at what is now coming out of that person.

  35. Lisabeth says:

    I am tired of seeing these things that go on. Something has to break this craziness soon. She’s out of control.

  36. seattlefan says:

    Wow! The fleecing of transparency and honesty! I have no other words. Geesh!

  37. curiouser says:

    Open and transparent…..haaa…haaa…ha!

  38. sauerkraut says:

    8 John Says: May 22nd, 2009 at 4:51 PM

    I just read Celtic Diva’s post. They are charging her for 16 hours of time for each e-mail account she wants searched.
    ___________

    pennsyltucky has long had one of the weakest public records laws in the country. but recently, the legislature updated and improved the law. it is now presumed that records are open. and it is stipulated that the requester need not pay for the labor cost of searching for responsive records as the labor is already being paid by taxpayer dollars and no requester should have to twice pay for the work the labor is already being paid!

    why doesn’t les gara get his colleagues to pass new legislation which clarifies the outrageous and extreme labor charges being placed in Linda’s path? the law states she is entitled to public records… the outrageous charge effectively constructively backdoor denies her the ability to access to public documents – an act which is contrary to the law.

  39. AK_907 says:

    Moving to Venezuela has crossed my mind!

  40. WakeUpAmerica says:

    Dear God, Palin really is the wicked queen from Alice in Wonderland. “Off with their heads!!”

  41. WakeUpAmerica says:

    It really is time to contact the federal DOJ. This is obscene. It is rape and pillage of the constituency.

  42. anon blogger says:

    I didn’t see the entire request verbatim. But there is some language one puts in a request for copies asking that all fees be waived. Similar to a pauper’s oath, but not. I just can’t remember the language, but I have used it before myself.

    The governor’s office is trying to block access to such records since no one in their right mind would consider paying that kind of fee for copies of some emails. And it should be obvious that any emails between a governor’s office, a shock jock, and a gossip columnist would not contain confidential, top secret information.

  43. Karin in CT says:

    GINO is now officially out of control.

    This is complete and utter BS.

  44. Dr. Patois says:

    Here is another link for the Alaska FOIA. They can waive the fees if the request is shown to be in the public interest. Fees are not suppose to be charged unless it takes a staff member more than 5 hours a month to process the request. If fees are being charged, the fee cannot exceed the salary of the employee retrieving the material. Are state salaries public information? Is stonewalling an ethics violation? If AM and CD cannot get the ACLU or Rex Butler to take on their FOIA requests pro-bono perhaps they could start a citizen petition to show public interest in the request and break down the monetary wall.

    http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Alaska_FOIA_procedures

  45. austintx says:

    32 leu2500 Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 6:00 PM
    Question: did previous admins charge for similar requests?
    ******************************************************
    Good question !!

  46. leu2500 says:

    I’m with Celtic Diva – it shouldn’t cost anything. I’ve had to pull data for FOIAs and I never heard that it cost anything. It was just part of my job.

    Question: did previous admins charge for similar requests?

  47. EyeOnYou says:

    Seagull Junker Palin Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 5:52 PM
    Have ANY records requests been honored yet?
    ________________

    Andree McLeod did state that she had received “some” of those that she had requested, but not all.

  48. Seagull Junker Palin says:

    I shortened my name (Seagull Junker P. ’cause I just don’t want to type it anymore) and I went in the pending file, so I’ll re-send.

    Thanks John for the Alaska Public Records Act link. I saw this there under the fee info: (not sure if or how it applies – thinking the Journalism angle?)

    “The fee may be reduced or waived by the public agency if the electronic services and products are to be used for a public purpose, including public agency program support, nonprofit activities, journalism, and academic research. Fee reductions and waivers shall be uniformly applied among persons who are similarly situated.”

  49. Doggonit says:

    Probably it comes down to $ 63,000 for a Palin crony to approve the project and $ 1,000 to do it.

  50. nswfm CA says:

    AK, please send her on a hunting junket with the totally smashed Dick Cheney. It’s time.

  51. Seagull Junker Palin says:

    Have ANY records requests been honored yet?

  52. Lee323 says:

    Palin is refractory to learning.

    It’s clear she’s employing her well-honed “Wooten Strategy” of abusing the power of her public office to wage a petty and vindictive war against Alaskan bloggers and ethics complaint filers.

    Clearly, the Alaskan state legislature doesn’t have the balls to rein in this abomination of an elected official who doesn’t have the professionalism to hold the position of a lamp post.

    Get the ACLU and other national entities involved in this issue of the public’s right to information….and do it sooner rather than later!

  53. Seagull Junker P says:

    Thanks John for the link to the Alaska Public Records Act. Under the fee section I found this – not sure if/how (Journalism?) it applies:

    “The fee may be reduced or waived by the public agency if the electronic services and products are to be used for a public purpose, including public agency program support, nonprofit activities, journalism, and academic research. Fee reductions and waivers shall be uniformly applied among persons who are similarly situated.”

  54. CO almost native says:

    I ditto contacting the Alaska chapter of the ACLU– I get the sense that even if the fee is paid up front, then they decide if any are relevant, and might not release any. All that money down the drain– highway robbery.

  55. honestyinGov says:

    The other amazing thing that Celtic Diva pointed out in her story was….

    These are ALREADY….. STATE PAID employees who are being asked to just do their job…. for the State…. for citizens in the State. (as part of their Job!)

    They are not contracting out this business. This would seem like if you went to the DMV to get some records (in the file folders right behind them) but in this scenario the DMV employees hire someone outside the office to come in and pull the file for them.
    Stupidity in action…. just following GINO’s lead.

  56. Suchanut says:

    I say we figure out a way to raise the money and foist them on their own petard! It’s only $65K – there has to be a way – 6500 people would have to contribute $10 each.

    I think the Alaskans for Truth should do it –

    AKM, aren’t they already a PAC? Can a PAC do this? What is the maximum donation?

    I will say that I know for a fact that ETS is woefully understaffed – woefully.

  57. austintx says:

    Can we get a package deal on ALL the e-mails ??

  58. austintx says:

    8 John Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 4:51 PM
    I just read Celtic Diva’s post. They are charging her for 16 hours of time for each e-mail account she wants searched. That is crazy. The IT department must have scoured the earth to find IT people that slow. And they get paid $54 per hour to do it. They could get a high school student to do it in 20 minutes at $30 per hour.
    *************************************************
    Dang Right – My 15yr. old son and his buddies are scary good on a computer. I oughta……..um…….never mind.

  59. ds55 says:

    Maybe the $64K will be reimbursed later, like court fees in a lawsuit.

  60. trisha says:

    Can Alaskan citizens form a legal defense fund to pay for these requests?

    If Palin can collect money, why can’t the citizens collect money too?

    If you do, count me in for a donation.

    But seriously, if these documents are public information, how can they justify these types of fees? It makes them rather unaccessible to the general public.

    Is this legal?

  61. Cronopio says:

    This doesn’t quite pass muster. All government agencies are required to respond to FOIA requests, and while I suppose they are allowed to recoup reasonable expenses (my university never did, considering it a cost of business), I think a savvy lawyer could rip them a new one regarding that total.

  62. Marnie says:

    John
    “And they get paid $54 per hour to do it. They could get a high school student to do it in 20 minutes at $30 per hour.”

    They could get a well trained Chimp to do it for a banana.

    They could get one of those PJ clad basement bloggers to do it for nothing just to show what incompetents they are.

  63. Marnie says:

    I’d get the ACLU. This clearly is an effort to repress public access to public records. I don’t know what the legal definition of “the press” but Celtic Diva publishes her blog on a regular basis and has a base of readers. So there may be a first Amendment issue, if only indirectly.
    And to do so in a very punitive manner.

    Since the Alaska Supreme Court is Republican, bipass it if a all possible and go straight into a Federal Jurisdiction.

  64. Are You Kidding says:

    Come on, that’s beyond reasonable and isn’t even more than Andree’s request?
    And we’re probably less than 50 and certainly less than 100 and within only a couple months…too funny. This is what causes public cynicism with government not to mention pants down ludicrous behavior.

    Please someone file legal action and ask for punitive award.

    I’ll bet anything Palin is back to using her personal account for state business.

    Someone needs to publicly ask Palin about this so her comments are on record.

  65. The Rubber Room Hotel says:

    I really hope that this gets fought out in court. I would think this violates the open records act. This can not possibly be legal. No one would ever be able to afford to do this.

  66. DrChill says:

    >>>John Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 4:43 PM
    It costs a lot of money (employee time) to manually open every e-mail to look for Eddie’s name. It shouldn’t take much effort to search electronically
    for his name, however.
    =====
    Thats what I was thinking. If there is a specific email address she’s inquiring about, simple search terms like Burke, ed Eddie,”nut job talk show” then it should be a simple matter to search it and get them printed and filed and stored. 1 hour of time, including all the bureaucratic stuff.

    >>>Then they only have to pay a lawyer $200 an hour to review the e-mail with Eddie’s name and come up with a reason why the communication is privileged.
    ===
    Ah well there ya go.
    Someone aught to offer to contract out the work.
    At 1/50th those prices, and all the work , I could retire.
    🙂

  67. Ennealogic says:

    And they shouldn’t have to HIRE lawyers. What the heck is the Department of Law doing these days anyway? Aren’t they already on state payroll?

  68. Doggonit says:

    I don’t know cost of this project but, it can be automatic via a program such as Google Desktop that can index the mail server and allow text searches. It operates just like Google search on the internet.

    After search is complete, one would have to review. It’s unlikely this would take more than one man hour.

  69. Ennealogic says:

    IF the state e-mail accounts are properly handled, and no private e-mails are being used for state business, a simple script can be used to discover what e-mails had any of those subjects in it. It would take an IT person 1 hour max to create the search string, and then no more than a few hours to run it against the mailboxes.

    Heck, lemme in there, I’ll do the job for just $10,000,

  70. Aussie Blue Sky says:

    From the letter to Celtic Diva:

    “Once you pay the fees and the record compilation is completed, we intend to review the records to determine whether they are truly responsive to your requests and whether they include any confidential or privileged information that should not be disclosed.”

    So, Linda can pay $65,709 and get absolutely NOTHING for her money!

    Surely this farce is ripe for some court action.

  71. John says:

    I just read Celtic Diva’s post. They are charging her for 16 hours of time for each e-mail account she wants searched. That is crazy. The IT department must have scoured the earth to find IT people that slow. And they get paid $54 per hour to do it. They could get a high school student to do it in 20 minutes at $30 per hour.

  72. Irishgirl says:

    I’m going to bed, Palin is really annoying me.

  73. John says:

    It costs a lot of money (employee time) to manually open every e-mail to look for Eddie’s name. It shouldn’t take much effort to search electronically for his name, however. Then they only have to pay a lawyer $200 an hour to review the e-mail with Eddie’s name and come up with a reason why the communication is privileged.

  74. CO almost native says:

    @Dr. Chill:

    The state of Colorado has set a price per item to be copied, and it isn’t anywhere near that expensive.

  75. CO almost native says:

    Either there are a humongeous number of emails- thus the expense- or the cost is a nominal amount of xeroxing plus a processing fee to be deposited in the Alaska Trust Fund.

  76. Nan says:

    It amazes me that anything over 10 or 20 cents a copy is charged for what should be public records. And if it’s a court order for them to supply those records, can they legitimately make the attempt to charge for them?

    “GINO” is appropriate, isn’t it?

  77. DrChill says:

    I wonder what it would cost to find out IF THERE IS and communication between the AK government, and Burke.

    So why not call Eddie on his show and find out?

    As an Computer/IT kinda guy, I wonder why its SO expensive to find out.
    Maybe I’ll ask around to some Sys Admins and see if they can calculate the true the cost of that type of request.

    Unless one of you Mudflatters has that info handy ….

  78. Physicsmom says:

    How do they come up with the extravagant costs to retrieve emails? Does Celtic Diva expect to pay this really? Guess I’ll head over to her site to get more details. Thanks for the update, AKM>

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