Frank Bailey, the former Sarah Palin aide turned tell-all author, has agreed to pay an $11,900 civil fine for violating the state's ethics laws by keeping, disseminating and profiting from confidential emails he obtained while serving in Palin's administration.
The Alaska attorney general's office disclosed the settlement Tuesday in a letter to ethics campaigner Andree McLeod. McLeod, a Palin critic, initiated the complaint against Bailey in September 2010 after reading about his plans for a Palin book with two co-authors in the Daily News gossip column, the Alaska Ear.
At the time she filed the complaint, McLeod had been trying for two years to get the state to release Palin's emails, a request only partially fulfilled in a massive document dump the following June. In her complaint, McLeod said it was improper for one person to have access to a trove of public records when the general public was unable to get them.
"I, along with the Associated Press, Mother Jones, MSNBC, and others submitted legitimate public records requests in the fall of 2008," McLeod wrote her Sept. 7, 2010, complaint. "After 2 years and more than a dozen extensions, we are still waiting for Palin's email documents to be made public. Yet, it seems that a former Palin aide and two others who remain anonymous have free access to Palin's emails ... all because Bailey worked for her in the governor's office."
McLeod said Tuesday that Bailey's fine "is just the beginning in straightening things out." She said she was gratified that one public official was held accountable for using information he gathered in office for personal benefit.
But now that Bailey has acknowledged sharing confidential emails with others, including his coauthors, those emails should also be made public, she said. She officially made that request in her response Tuesday to the letter from the Attorney General's office telling her that her complaint was validated.
Bailey didn't respond to an email requesting comment.
Bailey was first appointed by Palin as special assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Administration. From August 2007 to September 2009, he had a key job filling patronage positions as Palin's director of Boards and Commissions. In May, his memoir, "Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin," was published by Simon & Schuster with coauthors Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon.
Palin quit as governor in July 2009, complaining bitterly of the ethics complaints filed against her, including several by McLeod. The Bailey complaint was the first on a matter brought by McLeod that resulted in a fine under the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.
In the four-page settlement agreement with the state, confirmed by Senior Assistant Attorney General Julia Bockmon, Bailey admitted he used his collection of emails relating to state business from 2006 to 2009 to write the book. Some of those emails were confidential under state law, he admitted.
Before the book was published, Bailey provided a draft manuscript and the emails he planned to quote to the Attorney General's office for review of potential confidential information, the settlement said. At the time, Bailey said took that step so he could "remove information alleged to violate the Ethics Act prior to publication."
While Bailey removed most of the confidential information prior to publishing, some remained, the settlement said.
The settlement only generally describes the subject of the confidential information that was published: "Mr. Bailey admits that his published book contains information regarding the appointment of an attorney general that the Office of the Attorney General advised him was confidential prior to publication of the book," the settlement said.
The penalties in the settlement were attributed to three violations: $3,600 for using confidential information in drafting his book; $7,200 for disclosing confidential information to his two co-authors; and $1,100 for publishing confidential information after he was advised it was secret.
McLeod said the penalty against Bailey demonstrates that Palin's administration didn't achieve the reforms it claimed.
"State employees know not to do this -- from commissioners on down to the admin clerk, they know you can't personally benefit form information acquired when you're working for the state. But Palin and her cohorts thought they were above the law, or they didn't give a hoot," she said.
Reach Richard Mauer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4345.