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Palin e-mails show routine work, running feuds

By Matt Smith, CNN
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Alaska releases Palin e-mails
  • Palin once baked brownies to ease a "controversy" over a football rivalry
  • She thought "Bridge to Nowhere" was an offensive nickname
  • She once drafted a letter to the editor and sought a staffer to submit it
  • On Alaska's congressman: "I don't want to get chewed out by him yet again"

Juneau, Alaska (CNN) -- Thousands of pages of e-mail from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's administration range from the mundane details of governing to efforts to crack down on state news leaks and push back against critics.

Scattered among the 24,000 pages, released by state officials in Juneau on Friday, are glimpses of Palin periodically butting heads with top Alaskan political figures as she pushed to get landmark oil and gas legislation through the statehouse; demanding that Exxon finish paying damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill; even dealing with complaints about high school football rivalries by offering to bake brownies.

Excerpts from Palin e-mails: Tell Exxon to 'end this misery'

By June 2008, she was being sought out by national news outlets and being talked up as potential running mate for Republican presidential nominee John McCain. But the documents show her battling Alaska reporters even as McCain was preparing to put her on the national stage.

In a July 26, 2008, exchange, Palin seeks out someone to submit a letter she drafted to the Anchorage Daily News. The letter would have been a rebuttal to another one that questioned Palin's support for the Miss Alaska pageant, because she failed to attend the 2008 event.

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In the exchange, Palin aide Ivy Frye suggested one candidate "would be perfect as she knows the pageant world but also she knows how busy you and Todd are" and notes that her staff was "rallying the troops" to get other letters published. Palin responds by pointing out that another aide "had one [letter] yest about kopp so won't run more from him I'd presume. Yes, make sure no dups [duplications] if letter goes out."

It was unclear from the documents whether the Palin-drafted letter was published.

Palin has railed against the "lamestream media" since her rocky start in national politics, when McCain chose the then-obscure first-term governor as his running mate. The records released this week came in response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by news organizations during the 2008 race, with a further request covering the months leading up to her 2009 resignation still pending.

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She got elected in 2006 by campaigning as a reformer, pushing ethics legislation and railing against cozy ties between the state's political establishment and the oil industry that undergirds Alaska's economy. She initially supported the controversial "Bridge to Nowhere," a federally funded, $223 million span linking Ketchikan to adjacent Gravina Island, but turned against it once in office as it became shorthand for wasteful "pork-barrel" spending.

She highlighted that opposition in her acceptance speech to the GOP convention in 2008, telling a rapt crowd that she said "Thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere." But a year earlier, she called that nickname "offensive" in a message to her lieutenant governor.

Sean Parnell, now governor, had asked what he should say about the project in a July 2007 appearance at a Ketchikan civic club. Palin responded, "We can't afford it, the Feds won't pay for it, the general populace isn't placing it as a high priority ... can you diplomatically express that?!

"Of course we want infrastructure - and this is NOT a 'bridge to nowhere' (that is so offensive)," she replied. "But as it stands today with the highest-cost bridge design selected by the Ketchikan community, we need to find a lower-cost alternative is a bridge will be built."

Palin e-mails: Download, comment

Alaska eventually kept the federal money intended for the bridge, using it on other transportation projects. Parnell, who took office after Palin's resignation, mounted a 2008 challenge to longtime U.S. Rep. Don Young with Palin's backing, falling short in a GOP primary.

The following September, with Palin already running for vice president, Young requested a talk with the governor, according to one e-mail. Palin wrote back, "Pls find out what it's about. I don't want to get chewed out by him yet again, I'm not up for that."

In a state with 700,000 people spread over half a million square miles, Palin had to deal with issues that wouldn't be unfamiliar to a small-town mayor in other states. In one 2008 message, a constituent asks for street sweepers to be run down his block; in another chain of messages, under the subject line "This is ridiculous," Palin notes that "Huge issues seem to have erupted on the visiting football team on Friday."

"This 'controversy' stems from the perception that I'd be favoring a visiting team from the Valley over the local Juneau team, and that 'parents are sensitive to this, they may write letters to the editor,' etc," she wrote. "What a crock. We've hosted so many groups, classrooms, teams, etc in the mansion and/or the Juneau office and no one has said boo about it."

She said questions had been raised "about who'd pay for what" if she hosted an event for the visiting team, which came from Palin's home territory outside Anchorage. So Palin and her staff pitched in to supply food, including four boxes of brownie mix.

"I will bake them myself ... so no more controversy, it's clear the state isn't paying for the students' treat," she wrote.

CNN's Drew Griffin, Kathleen Johnston and Katie Glaeser contributed to this report.