David Corn

David Corn

Washington Bureau Chief

Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.

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Another Sarah Palin Email Controversy?

| Thu Sep. 11, 2008 2:36 PM EDT

Is Alaska Governor Sarah Palin taking I.T. tips from Dick Cheney and Karl Rove?

As Mother Jones first reported, her office, responding to an open records act request, refused to release about 1100 emails involving Palin and her aides, citing what seems to be an iffy claim of executive privilege. And now another email issue has emerged: Palin's use of a private email account for her official duties.

Emails obtained by Andrée McLeod, the independent government watchdog in Alaska who filed that opens records request, indicate that Palin, who is running along side John McCain to replace Cheney, has used a gov.sarah@yahoo.com account--rather than an Alaska state email account--for official business. As McLeod, a registered Republican, points out, this raises at least two potential problems. One is security. Is Palin conducting state business outside of secured Alaska state servers? Another is transparency. Can her emails on this private account be properly maintained and archived? Can they be reviewed in response to, say, an open records act request?

To date, nether Palin nor her spokespeople have had anything to say about the withheld emails or her use of a private email address for state business.

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McCain Wants To Spend 1/3rd of a Trillion Dollars on Nuclear Plants

| Thu Sep. 11, 2008 12:17 PM EDT


From Bloomberg

John McCain's plan to revive the U.S. nuclear power industry with 45 new reactors may cost $315 billion, with taxpayers bearing much of the financial risk.
...Taxpayers are on the hook only if borrowers default. A 2003 Congressional Budget Office report said the default rate on nuclear construction debts might be as high as 50 percent, in part because of the projects' high costs.

So much for Mr. I-Watch-Out-for-the-Taxpayers. Read the rest here.

Palin Says McCain Doesn't "Run with the Washington Herd." Is It Jogging?

| Wed Sep. 10, 2008 1:05 PM EDT

At a campaign rally this morning in Fairfax, Virginia, Sarah Palin declared of John McCain, "He doesn't run with the Washington herd."

That's sure not true, given that his campaign is managed (or stage-managed) by the old bulls of the Washington lobbying herd. And within what seemed seconds of Palin making this false statement, the Obama campaign sent me (and other reporters) a list of McCain's top aides who are former DC lobbyists:

Appeal Filed in the Case of Sarah Palin's Secret Emails

| Wed Sep. 10, 2008 12:33 AM EDT

Days ago, Mother Jones reported that Governor Sarah Palin's office withheld about 1100 emails in response to an open records act request filed in June and claimed that these emails to and from Palin aides and the governor herself covered confidential and official policy deliberations between Palin and her staffers. But the list (PDF) of the undisclosed emails indicates that many had subject lines suggesting they were not about policy matters. (A series of emails referred to one of Palin's political foes, another set to a well-known Alaskan journalist.) And many of the emails were CC'ed to Todd Palin, the governor's husband, who holds no official position in her administration. On Tuesday, Andrée McLeod, the independent watchdog who filed the original request, submitted an appeal (PDF), asking Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, to review the decision to keep these emails secret. Here is the statement McLeod issued afterward:

Sarah Palin's Secret Emails

| Sun Sep. 7, 2008 11:51 PM EDT

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The Palin administration won't release hundreds of emails from her office, claiming they cover confidential policy matters. Then why do the subject lines refer to a political foe, a journalist, and non-policy topics?

In June, Andrée McLeod, a self-described independent government watchdog in Alaska, sent an open records act request to the office of Governor Sarah Palin. She requested copies of all the emails that had been sent and received by Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey, two top aides to Palin, from February through April of this year. McLeod, a 53-year-old registered Republican who has held various jobs in state government, suspected that Frye and Bailey had engaged in political activity during official business hours in that period by participating in a Palin-backed effort to oust the state chairman of the Alaska Republican party, Randy Ruedrich. (Bailey has been in the national news of late for refusing to cooperate with investigators probing whether Palin fired Alaska's public safety commission because he did not dismiss a state trooper who had gone through an ugly divorce with Palin's sister.)

In response to her request, McLeod received four large boxes of emails. This batch of documents did not contain any proof that Frye and Bailey had worked on government time to boot out Ruedrich. But there was other information she found troubling. Several of the emails suggested to her that Palin's office had used its influence to reward a Fairbanks surveyor who was a Palin fundraiser with a state job. In early August, McLeod filed a complaint with the state attorney general against Palin, Bailey, and other Palin aides, claiming they had violated ethics and hiring laws. Palin, now the Republican vice-presidential candidate, told the Alaska Daily News that "there were no favors done for anybody."

But more intriguing than any email correspondence contained in the four boxes was what was not released: about 1100 emails. Palin's office provided McLeod with a 78-page list (PDF) cataloging the emails it was withholding. Many of them had been written by Palin or sent to her. Palin's office claimed most of the undisclosed emails were exempt from release because they were covered by the "executive" or "deliberative process" privileges that protect communications between Palin and her aides about policy matters. But the subject lines of some of the withheld emails suggest they were not related to policy matters. Several refer to one of Palin's political foes, others to a well-known Alaskan journalist. Moreover, some of the withhold emails were CC'ed to Todd Palin, the governor's husband. Todd Palin—a.k.a. the First Dude—holds no official state position (though he has been a close and influential adviser for Governor Palin). The fact that Palin and her aides shared these emails with a citizen outside the government undercuts the claim that they must be protected under executive privilege. McLeod asks, "What is Sarah Palin hiding?"

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