ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A judge has ordered the state of Alaska to preserve any government-related e-mails that Gov. Sarah Palin sent from private accounts.
Anchorage Superior Court Judge Craig Stowers ruled Friday in the lawsuit brought by Anchorage resident Andree McLeod against Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee.
Palin has occasionally used private e-mail accounts to conduct state business, and her Yahoo accounts were hacked last month. The hacking of Palin's private account was significant because it showed that using private e-mail accounts to conduct state business would be vulnerable to being exposed.
It wasn't widely known that the governor and her staff were using private e-mail accounts until McLeod filed the first of several open records requests earlier this year that yielded some of the e-mail traffic _ much of it redacted for what were deemed privacy reasons.
The judge ordered the attorney general to contact Yahoo and other private carriers to preserve any e-mails sent and received on those accounts. If the e-mails were destroyed when the accounts were deactivated, he directed state officials to have the companies attempt to resurrect the e-mails.
"We shouldn't be in a position where public records have been lost because the governor didn't do what every other state employee knows to do, which is to use an official, secure state e-mail account to conduct state business," McLeod said after the 90-minute hearing.
"It's a dereliction of the governor and her duties," she said.
Assistant Attorney General Mike Mitchell told the court that the governor is no longer using private e-mail to conduct state business.
Stowers ordered e-mails of Palin's staff members who used private accounts to be preserved, as well. Mitchell was unsure if these other employees had also stopped using the private accounts.
Palin's e-mail account with Yahoo Inc. was compromised last month by a hacker who revealed as evidence a few inconsequential personal messages she has received since John McCain selected her as his running mate.
Palin used "gov.sarah" in one of the Yahoo e-mail addresses she sometimes used to conduct state business. The hacker targeted her separate "gov.palin" account. Both have been shut down.