Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crivella West

Crivella West






Crivella West Incorporated (“Crivella West”) prepared this abbreviated Dossier based upon a document production made by the State of Alaska in response to a September 2008 public records request. The request at issue was initially made by Aram Roston, then a reporter with NBC News. Roston requested email communications to and from Todd Palin and Governor Sarah Palin in addition to certain staff members from the Governor’s Office. While Roston’s request was made in September of 2008, responsive documents were not produced until January 25, 2010. Crivella West, working in conjunction with msnbc.com investigative reporter Bill Dedman, obtained copies of this document production on February 1, 2010.

Crivella West utilized patented linguistic technological analysis to identify documents that could be logically related to issues specific to isolated areas of interest. This analysis was performed on 2,544 pages of documents responsive to the original Roston request. Crivella West has digitized this collection which it is hosted in its entirety, and by issue specific categories, at http://www.crivellawest.net.

The preliminary analysis which appears below is representative of a Dossier which Crivella West prepares for its clients in legal, academic and other fields. In short, a Dossier distills the linguistic, technologic and contextual analysis of issue specific matters. Quotations from source records in this Dossier are directly from the records produced by the State of Alaska, and thus, may be presented with the original grammatical, spelling and typographical errors in uncorrected format.

Crivella West's investigation of the records responsive to Roston's request revealed many emails pertaining to the Governor's schedule, scheduled events that Todd Palin, the First Gentleman or the Palin children may have also attended, mundane household items, and communications from Alaskans contacting the Governor about issues of concern to them personally, including numerous expressions of support for her children. The records included repeated instances where Todd Palin was copied on the Palin's administration forwarding of news articles and press releases to each other. The State of Alaska also provided with the responsive records a 36 page privilege log that listed many documents withheld on the basis of attorney-client, executive and deliberative process privileges as well as privacy. The responsive records do provide insight into some matters of interest related to Governor Palin and Todd Palin and highlight their communication styles.

Governor Palin’s Communications

When the Alaska creamery board announced a decision to close state-owned Matanuska Maid Dairy in 30 days - Governor Palin wrote to her brother, Chuck Heath, "I've not been so riled up in a long time over an issue- we HAVE to find solutions here." ROSTON 00412. When a representative of the Matanuska Maid Dairy employees, Barbara Huff, wrote to Joseph Balash, a member of Governor Palin's administration, that she had repeatedly requested a meeting with the Governor and had heard through a dairy employee "who talked to the Governor's husband, the Governor did not know about our letter"- Governor Palin fired off a response within minutes of receiving the email. ROSTON 00425 at 00426. "It had better be explained to her that yesterday is the FIRST I heard of the mtg request. I will call her if I don't hear that she's been notified asap." ROSTON 00425.

Governor Palin’s Communications with Glen Biegel

Also of interest are Governor Palin's communications with Glen Biegel, apparently a key constituent and supporter. In a September 12, 2007 email from Governor Palin to Glen Beigel, Governor Palin wrote an emotional and conciliatory response to Biegel's appearance on an Alaskan radio show. Copying only Todd Palin on the correspondence she wrote Biegel:

After yesterday it's been confirmed: The circle of confidants is so small in the world of politics, much less the circle of friends. Your comments and follow-on agreements with Fagan about his "more broken promises" claims, claims of pandering to media and not being conservative, etc, etc, etc…it was all heartbreaking…but eye-opening for me as the circle grew smaller right before my ears. My gosh Glen - playing into Fagan's accusation that I care more for Alaska's dairy cows than I do our kids?
ROSTON 00883.

Several days later, Governor Palin’s tone changed when she responded back to an e-mail from Biegel dated September 15, 2007, where Biegel wondered what he should speak about "on the air". ROSTON 00889 at 00890. Governor Palin stated: It doesn't seem wise to me for you to "make guesses" about anything, then speak about it on the air. I have not had the chance to sit down with the AG to speak about this, as your request is to speak to him, so though it's not wise, nor fair, to "make guesses" again on the air, I can not tell you what to say on air... I've already expressed the committment to help, the tasking of staff to gather more information so the board can more aggressively tackle the issues, I've insisted homeschoolers get adequate time to address the board... etc.
ROSTON 00889 at 00890.

Despite this exchange, Governor Palin and Glen Biegel's relationship appears to have continued to be close as Governor Palin included Biegel in correspondence between herself and key officials in her administration relating to the AGIA (Alaska Gasline Inducement Act) and tax rates for the participating gas shippers on December 13, 2007. She noted Biegel's unique status and wrote:

I sent this reply with all due respect, and in confidence between you and my administrators who have been working hard on getting Alaska's gasline project up and running. You know we can not share AGIA information until the conforming bid process is complete - and I'm not sure if you've read CP's proposal that they admit is outside the law. I trust you understand.
ROSTON 01234 at 1235.

Governor Palin’s Defense of Practices relating to Family

Other emails indicate Governor Palin's frustration at public criticism about her schedule and allegations of misuse of state resources. In an August 21, 2007 email to Kristina Perry, Governor’s Scheduler, Michael Tibbles, Chief of Staff, and Todd Palin about scheduling a meeting in Anchorage and Juneau to coordinate with Todd Palin's work schedule on the slope, Governor Palin cautioned that the information should be "Confidential bc people gossip too much about my sched already." ROSTON 00756. An entry in Andrew Halcro's blog referring to Ivy Frye, a Palin aide who also served as Director of Boards and Commissions, as the "babysitter", angered Governor Palin. The Governor wrote:

Ivy Have you EVER shuttled my kids on state time, ever? I know you have not. Halcro is a liar. The mainstream media going to him as a credible source is pathetic. Security has shuttled my kids from point A to point B, with their insistence that it's their job to work for/protect the First Family and they did it for other governors. If Halcro wants to gripe about that, let him take it up with Security.
ROSTON 01492 at 01494.

Todd Palin’s Communications

Emails written by Todd Palin contained in the responsive records were generally short statements, seldom exceeding one or two sentences. Two emails written in October 2007 were more revealing. On October 1, 2007, Todd Palin contacted Kristina Perry to request that she "[R]emind everybody that dad was offered to serve on an advisory committee, but he's not going to accept. For Miller to accuse my dad or me for any wrong doing is unbelievable and another reason for a needed change in AIDEA [Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority]." ROSTON 00960. Another report about Governor Palin's closest advisors (including Todd Palin) and the resignation of former Legislative Liaison John Bitney, prompted Todd Palin to write, "When I spoke with Harris I didn't mention Bitneys name at all. Bitney is a master at having other people do his dirty work, his co-workers. For Dillon to say that I have great influence (I don't) would only come from Bitney.” ROSTON 00970.

Travel Authorizations and Reimbursement

Several of the emails in the records responsive to the Roston request deal with the State of Alaska's policies regarding travel and cell phone/PDA (personal digital assistant) reimbursement. Sarah Palin wrote to Linda J. Perez, Director of Administrative Services, on June 19, 2007, seeking clarification about reimbursement for meals. Palin asked:

Am I supposed to be charging meals while I am away from Juneau? Or does per diem cover my meals- I haven't charged any meals to the state, just a couple of coffees while Outside during these six months in office. Am I doing this right? What about Todd's meals if he's traveling for First Gentlemen duties? Is the intent for his per diem to cover meals entirely, or was he to have been keeping receipts for reimbursements? What about family? I'd like to be real clear especially going into July where we've been asked if we can be away from Gov's House during renovations. Thanks Linda- sorry to bug you about policy I'm still not clear on.
ROSTON 00591 at 00593.

In a lengthy explanation, Perez indicated the Governor could use the state credit card to purchase meals and that Alaska's per diem policy of $60.00 per day for meal expenses made it unnecessary for either Sarah or Todd Palin to keep receipts for meals. In the event that Palin opted to use the state credit card for meals, the state would reconcile the charges per day with the allowed per diem. Perez went on to state:

[A]s you are the state employee and your duty station is Juneau, you are in travel status the entire time you are out of Juneau unless you advise us otherwise. For Mr. Palin and your family, if they travel on official business or in their official capacity as the First Family, we view them as being in travel status for: the duration of travel to and from an event and for the actual time spent at the event for meal allowance purposes (unless the meal was provided.) As requested, we have not paid any meal allowances for your daughters to date.
ROSTON 00591.

Further clarification concerning expense reimbursement was provided by Erika Fagerstrom, Executive Residence Manager & Assistant, in an email to the First Gentleman on July 11, 2007. Fagerstrom explained that "TAs" (travel authorizations) were created any time that Mr. Palin or his children traveled over 50 miles and were gone for more than 12 hours. Fagerstrom further stated that she had reviewed Todd Palin's travel information with the state employee responsible for travel to make sure that she was not missing any of his "TAs". "IF any corrections need to be made just let me know- as they're still a work in progress until they're signed with your approval….This will help me make sure that you're receiving ALL of the per diems and compensation that you're due. I hope this makes sense and isn't too big of a hassle." ROSTON 00652 (emphasis in the original).

Keeping the Governor and First Family’s authorized travel expenses up to date appears to have been one of Fagerstrom's main job responsibilities. Fagerstrom generally corresponded with Todd Palin to sort out details needed for expense authorization. In a typical example, Fagerstrom sent an email to Todd Palin on February 28, 2007, with a subject line referencing “TA, NGA, Piper’s skates, Interview”:

When you get a chance could you let me know what flight you traveled on and if you have any expenses (receipts) that you need to be reimbursed for. Your TAs end when you return to Anchorage, so that's when I start to bother you about getting boarding passes, receipts, etc... to me. You could drop them off in an envelope at any of the Governor's offices, and just address it: Erika Fagerstrom- Governor's House, Juneau, and the state mail system will get it to me.
ROSTON 00022 (emphasis in original).

During this particular trip, the First Gentleman attended the National Governors Association (“NGA”) conference in Washington DC, which took place from February 20, 2007 through February 27, 2007. Just prior to the NGA conference, Mr. Palin participated in the Iron Dog, an almost 2,000 mile snowmobile race. This was noted by Fagerstrom who quipped, “Seems like it would be hard to go from this intense- physically taxing snowmobile race- to sitting in a room listening to conference speakers.” ROSTON 00022.

In fact, the First Family travel often left Fagerstrom seeking justification for TAs. For example, on June 5, 2007, Fagerstrom sent an email to Kari Spencer, Director Office of Governor, and Kristina Perry, with copy to Todd Palin concerning Willow’s travel to Alaska. Fagerstrom wrote:

My understanding is that Willow will be arriving in Juneau this Thursday and she will be flying to Anchorage on Friday (6/8). I did not see any family events up in the Anchorage area listed on the calendar- between now and when they travel back this way for the Ketchikan and Juneau events (6/16 and 6/18). Do either of you know of ANY family events that are not on the calendar? I'm sure there's something I'm not aware of, but since Willow's TAs originate from Juneau I'll need a purpose before I can have a ticket purchased.
ROSTON 00319 (emphasis in the original).

A June 19, 2007 email from Fagerstrom to Todd Palin shows that a TA was prepared for Willow indicating that she did travel from Juneau to Anchorage, a day later than Fagerstrom previously indicated, on June 9, 2007. In her email, Fagerstrom inquires whether Willow attended any of three events listed on the Governor’s calendar for the timeframe of Willow’s travels. ROSTON 00524. Todd Palin responded the same day confirming Willow’s attendance at the Global Food Award, which was in fact on the Governor’s calendar. ROSTON 00530.

State and Personal Mobile Phone/PDA Use and Reimbursement

The responsive records also include several emails where State of Alaska employees as well as Governor Palin seek clarification about reimbursement of mobile phones/PDAs. On January 17, 2008, Kim Garnero, Director of Finance, distributed two documents to state employees updating them on the tax policies for electronic property and providing them with a property authorization for employees issued electronic property owned by the State of Alaska. In that email, Garnero stated that in an effort to simplify reporting, the substantiation standard for supporting business use of the state-owned mobile phones/PDAs would require the employee to identify personal use only instead of requiring the employee to support all business use. ROSTON 01386 at 01387.

In response to that communication, Governor Palin forwarded an email to Frank (presumably Frank Bailey, Director, Boards and Commissions), other administration officials and Todd Palin, where she questioned the practicality of the policy:

Doesn't it still just make more sense to get personal blackberry and soley use that? No way in heck do I have time to track what's business and what's not. (Shoot- if "vacation time" like today is any indication of "off-state time" time, after receiving and sending umpteen emails and calls these past few days - then it's a whack system to have to consider ANY time is "personal time", and most every call/email should not have to be decifered re: percent of time that's spent "personally".
ROSTON 01386.

Members of Palin's administration continued to seek further clarification regarding the specifics of the state's policies regarding personal and state business use of mobile phones/PDAs, particularly the confidentiality of personal versus state business emails sent and received from personal and state-owned devices. On March 17, 2008, Ivy Frye sent a series of questions to Kim Garnero quizzing her about the confidentiality of emails on a "personal device" and what type of situation might "constitute subpoena of personal e-mails". ROSTON 01715 at 01717. Frye reported back to Governor Palin, Todd Palin, Frank Bailey and Kristina Perry that "[Q]uestions of confidentiality are still unanswered by Law. Kim Garnero, Finance director, thinks that personal emails on a personal device would be confidential and not subject to subpoena, however the question is still unanswered by Law….I'll also ask if personal emails have always been routed through the state server." ROSTON 01715.

On March 25, 2007, Frye forwarded an email from Kim Garnero to Governor Palin, Todd Palin, Bailey and Perry that clarified, "Your PDA can be configured to have both a state email and personal email account. State email goes through the ETS server; personal email doesn't (like a Yahoo account, it goes directly over the internet into the device." ROSTON 01765.


The State of Alaska’s production to Roston’s public records request provides a unique insight from the perspective of the First Gentlemen into Sarah Palin’s tenure as Alaska’s Governor. With a preliminary look at this collection, this dossier reveals the Governor and her staff at times struggled to understand and maintain distinctions between official business and personal use – whether it related to mobile phone usage or to travel inside and out of the expansive state of Alaska. Given the sometimes blurred line between official and personal business matters, a reader of the emails can glean insight into the unique communication style Governor Palin has become known for and which is shared by the former First Gentleman, Todd Palin.

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