September 9, 2008

Palin scandals are a dime a dozen these days. The sheer number of them, the fact that many have proved to be nonsense, and the lack of a smoking gun in any of them have led (I feel) to a consensus that there is quantity but no quality, that nothing but a few quasi-lies and position reversals (I hate the term ‘flip-flop’) is likely to emerge. This is wrong. There is still a very real chance that a game-changing – if not game-ending – piece of evidence will emerge. Here, as I see it, is the GOP’s biggest liability:

One of the less discussed scandals concerns the role Todd Palin’s role in his wife’s administration as governor of Alaska. A number of Palin-opponents have levelled the charge that Todd – who had no official connection to government – played an inapropriately active part in running the state. A summary of these charges can be found here.

As the article mentions, a seperate group of Palin detractors, looking into Troopergate, requested a huge number of emails from the governor’s office under the FOIA. Many of those messages were denied based on executive privilege, usually under the heading ‘Deliberative Process / Executive’. The denied emails include messages sent to or from Todd Palin. Some have argued that this is damning in and of itself, as it shows that Todd was involved in matters he should not have been; I doubt that this line of attack on its own has legs.

What should have the McCain camp worried is the attempt to revoke executive privilege for all emails for which Todd was the sender or one of the recipients, on the grounds that he is not a state employee. I have no idea how clear cut the laws on this are, but I do have the very strong sense that if these emails are released, Palin will be, in both a legal and political sense, completely fucked.

Browsing through the list of withheld emails, which lists dates, times, and recipients, the first thing I noticed was that Todd is included in only a very small percentage of them. If he really is a “shadow governor”, he isn’t doing much of his shadow governing via email. Unless, I thought, he is specifically in charge of corruption, odds are against anything damaging surfacing. But what do odds know?

On February 28th at 8:09 PM Palin aide Ivy Frye sent an email to Todd and Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, and Kris Perry, with the subject ‘PSEA’. At 9:28 AM the next morning, Sarah Palin sent out a reply to the same group. Why does this matter? The notorious phone call from Frank Bailey to Rodney Dial (not to Monegan, as it is often described) about Trooper Wooten was made on the morning of February 29th. This is the phone call that got him suspended (with pay) and forced Palin to reverse her statement that no one from her office ever put pressure on anyone to fire Wooten. Palin still denies vigorously that she knew anything about the call until the recording was released. And the call, when it began, wasn’t about Wooten at all; it was about PSEA.

PSEA is the union that represents the troopers, as well as many other state employees. The union was in the midst of negotiations with the state at the time, and – at least in Bailey’s view – was preparing to play hardball. Bailey began the conversation by trying to get Dial to pass along any relevant internal documents he received from PSEA to the governor’s office in a manner that strongly implied he was asking for something illegal or unethical, and that he felt he was being pretty slick about it. (He wasn’t.) After a certain amount of confusion, Dial pointed out that he isn’t a member of the union, and doesn’t have access to any information about it that isn’t publicly available. Only then does the discussion move on to Wooten. This has not been discussed much at all, presumably since the whole thing was too incompetent to qualify as corruption.

Looking only at the subjects and dates, these are the very first someone looking for Palin-dirt would want unsealed. (Todd Palin is also included on the only message that competes, an email from Frye on April 4th with the tantalizing subject heading ‘I may be in trouble here guys’.) I don’t know the exact time of Bailey’s call, but it was made in the morning. If Palin’s email came before the call, and contains even a hint that he should call Dial and discuss Wooten, she is finished. If the email from Frye the night before suggests that Bailey should make the call and discuss Wooten, she is still finished, because she has repeatedly denied knowing anything about it. Finally, even if Wooten isn’t mentioned at all, there is the possibility that the haphazard attempt at corruption over PSEA is discussed, which, if it were bad enough, would also mean that she is finished.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Bailey made the call on his own, and that the emails were entirely benign. But, given that, as even Palin admits, Bailey talks as if he is acting on her instructions, and that emails about the topic of the call were sent to him right before (well, at least one was sent before) he placed it, and that the governor’s office has tried to keep their contents sealed, I strongly suspect that McCain is really, really hoping First Gentlemen are eligible for executive privilege.

Update: Ignore that first tag, as I now see that many others have gone over almost all of this. The details about the timing and subject matter of the emails doesn’t seem to have caught on or been posted anywhere with a lot of traffic, though, thus my need to discover these things myself. I find the lack of attention to his rather odd, given the demand for Palin scandals.


5 Responses to “Todd”

  1. […] Palin Emails Update Following up on an earlier post about Todd Palin and the Troopergate emails, the story has finally started to make a little headway […]

  2. […] Andree McLeod’s current appeal will be denied. (If you’re not following me, catch up here and here.) This has nothing to with the merits of the argument, and everything to do with the fact […]

  3. […] is the email from Bailey to Frye quoted above. For more detail on PSEA and the phone call, read my initial post on this issue, but the comment “Spoke to Rodney and he doesn’t get that kind of […]

  4. […] can read about all of this in more detail in our archives, but, in short, there is very good reason to suspect that two of the 1,100 […]

  5. […] Despot has long argued that these emails are the most likely place to find a smoking gun in Palin’s past. A […]

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