New Investigation -Not a Clear and Transparent Government
Gov. Sarah Palin is facing yet another lawsuit accusing her of running an opaque government. This time, her relationship to the mining industry is in question.
Alaskans for Clean Water are suing Palin and various state departments, including the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), for allegedly backing the mining industry - most notably, the controversial Pebble Mine project - by misleading voters about Ballot Measure Four, the so-called Clean Water Initiative which was defeated during
Brian Kraft, a business owner with no ties to Alaskans for Clean Water, is suing the governor's office for access to public records. Wednesday, September 22, 2008. the primary elections. The group is also accusing the governor and her administration of stonewalling public access to public records that could potentially prove whether Palin favored a special interest group.
It all began in August with Brian Kraft, who owns two businesses in Bristol Bay. He supported the ballot measure, which he says DNR helped to defeat with a website just a week before the primaries. Kraft filed a complaint with the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC).
"I thought it was biased, misleading and APOC ruled in our favor," said Kraft, who is not a member of Alaskans for Clean Water. "APOC had an expedited hearing. They viewed the evidence and in that evidence part of it was Gov. Palin's comments of 'I'm taking my hat off and, personally, I'm voting 'no' on ballot measure four."
That evidence - in the form of emails - is what Alaskans for Clean water requested through the public records act. Nearly two months later, they still don't have the records and are now suing for access.
"I'd like to know what those emails were back and forth between the administration, the DNR and the mining industry," said Kraft. "I think as a resident of the state of Alaska, we have a right to those."
office says all public records requests have been backlogged
"We're trying to comply with all the public records requests we've gotten," said Bill McAllister, Palin's spokesman. "We've got more than 80 ongoing public records requests right now, not including the ones we've already resolved. What this group has to understand is we're trying to answer inquiries from all over the country that have piled up in a very short time frame."
McAllister says the state is even "pulling lawyers off of other duties to do work they don't normally do to go through and see which of these records can be legally disclosed."
As for the clean water initiative, APOC ordered the state to take down the website but Kraft said the damage had already been done.
"I think it heavily influenced the way people voted, in that people felt secure that the State of Alaska had the rigorous permitting process that the State of Alaska likes to claim," Kraft said.
"I'm not trying to get the governor in trouble," Kraft added. "I'm not trying to make this a political issue. All I want is the truth to be found out."