Palin conducted state business from Yahoo email

Palin conducted state business from Yahoo email

Summary: Open government? Call it Yahoo government.The hacking of Sarah Palin's Yahoo email has raised serious questions about whether she was trying to hide official government business from the public.

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Open government? Call it Yahoo government. The hacking of Sarah Palin's Yahoo email has raised serious questions about whether she was trying to hide official government business from the public. The prospect is especially worrying given the Bush Administration's use of Yahoo accounts at the RNC and the subsequent disappearance of those emails.


Email from Amy McCorkell to Palin, cached at Gawker. Full collection of screenshots.

The Times reports that using webmail for official business was SOP in Alaska:
While Ms. Palin took office promising a more open government, her administration has battled to keep information secret. Her inner circle discussed the benefit of using private e-mail addresses. An assistant told her it appeared that such e-mail messages sent to a private address on a “personal device” like a BlackBerry “would be confidential and not subject to subpoena.”

Ms. Palin and aides use their private e-mail addresses for state business. A campaign spokesman said the governor copied e-mail messages to her state account “when there was significant state business.”

On Feb. 7, Frank Bailey, a high-level aide, wrote to Ms. Palin’s state e-mail address to discuss appointments. Another aide fired back: “Frank, this is not the governor’s personal account.”

Mr. Bailey responded: “Whoops~!”

Mr. Bailey, a former midlevel manager at Alaska Airlines who worked on Ms. Palin’s campaign, has been placed on paid leave; he has emerged as a central figure in the trooper investigation.

If you're going to hide your communications from the public, might as well be smarter about it, says Slate:

Rovian tactics aside, Wednesday's hacking episode proves that it's rather boneheaded to put state business on Yahoo. True, all e-mail addresses are vulnerable to hacking. But Yahoo is a big target—lots of people spend a lot of time trying to crack Yahoo accounts. Do a quick search for "hack yahoo," and you'll be presented with myriad methods of attack. Alaska's private e-mail system probably does not include a "Did you forget your password?" function. Yahoo, of course, does—and that function presents a key method of entry for hackers.

What to do about the Yahoo-ization of government? Gawker suggests:

[R]eformist liberals (could) take a cue from Gerald Ford's Congress and enact laws and penalties tough enough to ensure the government can't thumb its nose at access laws already on the books — thus making slightly less laughable the idea of government officials acting as "servants" to taxpayers.

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74 comments
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  • knuckleheads in the news

    I totally agree with the "government by yahoo_ statement. I'm sorry, but what knucklehead of a public figure would have such an obvious email account as gov.palin@yahoo.com? You would have THOUGHT that someone on the McCain campaign would have made sure this was secured (or eliminated) was she was chosen as McCain's running mate? Duh! Apparently Sen. Obama's comment about Sen. McCain not being able to use a computer applies to his staff also.

    http://whistlersear.wordpress.com.
    nellwal@...
    • you can't have it both ways...

      either Palin's use of Yahoo was a diabolical attempt to sidestep governmental oversight, in which case "gov.palin@yahoo.com" was an awfully unusual (not to say half-hearted) way to "hide" this traffic, or it wasn't an attempt to hide anything; just a way to segregate Gov. Palin's purely political and non-governmental messages from those which had real relevance to Alaska state government administration.

      If this were an even-handed analysis of political candidates' use of Email to segregate their messages which had were related to political campaigning from those which were purely connected with the conduct of their business as elected officials (and I realize there's a gray area in there the size of Texas), then I would expect to see at least some attempt to look at how Senators Obama and Biden address this same issue.

      As it is, it's difficult not to characterize this article as a one-sided political attack masquerading as an ethical analysis.
      jlafitte
  • RE: Palin conducted state business from Yahoo email

    There are soooo many unanswered questions out there about Palin that I am very worried our next president will continue the Bush agenda by continuing to operate "above the law". The troopergate is another example. First she promised to participate, now it's stall until she can claim exec priviledge. Now it's hidden e-mail accounts and a rush to delete e-mail. Why delete the emails? Why not show the public that there is nothing in there and this is all ridiculous...unless it isn't. I can only assume there's something fishy going on until she can come out and show us what was really going on with these e-mails. If they are harmless, then show us. If they are not, then I've got to assume there is a reason why she didn't want to use the public account and tried to delete these e-mails afterwards.
    lawryll@...
    • This is not limited to any party or candidate. (nt)

      .
      Bruce Lang
      • Well, yeah

        It's limited to Republicans, to Bush, Cheney, Rove and now Palin. To the extent we're talking about an overarching policy, as opposed to individual bad actors covering their tracks (Detroit mayor).
        rkoman@...
        • Give me a break.

          Go talk to a Russian living under Putin. Then write your story.
          Assuming you live, come back and tell us about it.
          frgough
          • King of the irrelevant

            ain't you
            rkoman@...
          • He kind of forgets...

            that, thanks to the Bush adminstration, the Russians are pikers when it comes to snooping on citizens.
            Cardinal_Bill
    • Oh, please

      The moment you said Bush agenda, we knew you were a hack.
      frgough
  • RE: Palin conducted state business from Yahoo email

    Palin should have never conducted gov. business via Yahoo (I only use Yahoo as a junk email collecter myself).

    However, McCain/Palin still have my vote - Why? Because it would piss off NOW to no end ;o)
    HenryDee8
  • Your bias is showing

    You should indicate your bias before writing articles like this. Don't expect anyone to believe you are not biased, except those who are similarly biased.

    The righteous tone of the article is a dead giveaway.
    ron.cleaver@...
    • I am a Democrat

      Does that change anything about this story?
      rkoman@...
      • Nope

        Because the story is a propaganda piece. We all knew you were
        a radical democrat before we finished reading the headline.

        See, if Palin had been a Democrat, you'd be attacking the
        hackers for invasion of privacy. You know, kind of like the
        press did when Republican staffers hacked emails showing
        Democrats trying to spike Estrada because he was hispanic. In
        that case, it was all about how horrible it was that the email
        messages got intercepted and publicly revealed.

        Now, it's all about the content of the emails and how the
        hackers are heroes.

        One thing you can always count on with a hard-core Democrat
        zealot. Pravda-style propaganda in political reporting.
        frgough
        • And if Dems were using private email

          You'd be screaming bloody murder.
          rkoman@...
          • we wouldn't know, would we?

            Your assumption as to what "we" would be doing (I am a Libertarian, not a Republican, so your analysis fails on that point) if the Obama campaign were using Yahoo to conceal certain information from public inquiry shows that your own viewpoint is anything but objective (or rational, for that matter).

            If the Obama/Biden camp were concealing information from later criminal investigation (and associates of Tony Rezko would probably be wise to do that) then we can assume they wouldn't use clear messages over Yahoo Email.

            In fact, critics of Barack Obama's highly non-transparent campaign finances and personal finances would probably be delighted if the details of Nadhmi Auchi's transfer of millions of dollars through Tony Rezko to Barack Obama were located in Yahoo Mail, where a Federal subpoena could locate them and make them public knowledge.
            jlafitte
        • There ya go...

          hurl a threat...add adjectives to labels...use a few pseudowords...
          Cardinal_Bill
        • Ain't it the truth?

          nt
          cheesyone
        • "radical democrat"-- ha!

          those two words sound just as stupid together as
          "radical republican". If you're a member of the two
          major parties, you're not a radical anything. period.
          lostarchitect
      • What would change it is if ....

        ... someone could actually reprint one of these alleged official business Emails. Even after yahoo account has been hacked I haven't seen a single one. Just a bunch of hot air and allegations.
        ShadeTree
      • Why wasn't your party affiliation in your "disclosure"?

        The first thing I did after reading your article was to go directly to your "disclosure" to see what partisan political position you were writing this analysis from.

        However, you didn't disclose your party affiliation until just now, so there was no way to evaluate your failure to conduct an even-handed analysis which tried to look at Governor Palin's use of Yahoo in the context of the other candidates' use of similar Email facilities. Are Obama and Biden making use of less public Email accounts, and if they are, what does this signify?

        Palin's use of Yahoo to handle her campaign-related communications is not even remotely sinister, despite your clear attempt to paint it as such. She simply tried to segregate what she did as a political candidate from what she did as an elected state official.

        Where is the attempt to discover and explore parallel methods of communications in the Obama/Biden campaign versus their electronic communications as Senators and analyze whether what is happening in the Democratic camp is any different?

        The analysis is ridiculous on the face of it when you look at it from that perspective - Governor Palin is so secretive that she uses an electronic mail service known to be diaphanous and highly insecure to conduct her political communications, when much more secure fora for these communications are available (and with a trivial amount of effort, even the Yahoo messages could have been encrypted to a high level using PGP if concealing something had been Palin's intention).

        No, the only purpose this analysis could serve is to obfuscate the issue and create the false impression that Palin and her staff are hiding something - by using the least secure method of electronic communication short of broadcasting it on talk radio to do so.
        jlafitte