ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska's attorney general is investigating whether a former aide of Sarah Palin wrongly used email messages between her and staffers as the basis of a book critical of the ex-governor and former vice presidential candidate, the Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.
The book by Frank Bailey is due to be released May 24.
The probe was initiated following an ethics complaint lodged by Anchorage resident Andree McLeod last September.
Palin was known to use private email accounts to communicate with certain staffers while in office, and the ethics complaint seeks to determine whether unreleased or even confidential emails from that period are being used for personal gain.
Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton Walsh told McLeod on Friday the state has been trying to determine if it was missing emails and which messages might be in Bailey's possession, the newspaper reported.
"Please be assured that we take this matter very seriously and are working to ensure that the state has possession of all state records and emails," Paton Walsh wrote in an email to McLeod.
Bailey's lawyer, Kevin G. Clarkson, said in an email on Tuesday that Bailey has taken "great care" to ensure his writings have been consistent with legal requirements.
"In this respect, Mr. Bailey provided his manuscript to the Attorney General's office, along with copies of the e-mails referenced in the manuscript, for review and approval prior to submitting the final manuscript to his publisher," he wrote in the email. "After the Attorney General's review, Mr. Bailey removed from his book references to a few emails that the State indicated it believed were covered by applicable privileges or confidentiality requirements."
Bailey also is making his personal email accounts that might contain state records available to the state.
"Mr. Bailey has gone above and beyond in his compliance with the law and the State's requests, and he has gone far above the efforts of others who previously worked in the Governor's office during the Palin Administration," Clarkson wrote. "This will be evident as the State reviews Bailey's emails and compares them with the compliance of other government officials at that time including then Governor Palin."
Palin and close members of her staff in the governor's office were known to use private email accounts to conduct state business. McLeod says those are state records and the public should have access to them.
Bailey has said the book was put together with the help of more than 60,000 emails he sent or received while working for Palin.
Palin's successor, Gov. Sean Parnell, has said he does not use private emails to do state business.
Bailey joined Palin's 2006 campaign for governor and was one of her closest aides while she was in office. His book, "Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin," is to be released by Howard Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. The book is co-authored by Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon of Anchorage. She is the founder of the website The Mudflats.
McLeod claims Bailey should not have shared emails with his co-authors if the messages are not available to the general public.
McLeod also maintains Bailey broke Alaska's executive branch ethics act. It says former public officials aren't allowed to use information acquired in the course of their work for personal gain if the information hasn't been publicly disseminated.
McLeod has been one of Palin's most vocal critics.
The state has been reviewing more than 26,000 pages of Palin's official emails. McLeod and news organizations filed public records requests for the emails in 2008, shortly after John McCain made his announcement that Palin was going to be his running mate in the presidential election.
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com