Rival accused of leaking former Palin aide's manuscript

JUNEAU -- The writers of a former Sarah Palin aide's unpublished memoir are alleging the author of a rival book helped leak copies of their manuscript, destroying its marketability.

In a letter to author Joe McGinniss, attorney Dean Steinbeck said the matter "appears to be no more than that of a jealous author sabotaging a competitor via unlawful and unscrupulous means."

Efforts to reach McGinniss were not immediately successful Monday. An e-mail sent to an account he kept while working on his own book on Palin wasn't immediately returned.

Steinbeck's letter was written on behalf of former Palin aide Frank Bailey and his co-authors, California novelist Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon of Anchorage, who runs the political website Mudflats, which consistently criticizes Palin.

The lawyer's letter was posted on the Mudflats website. It says the writers are reviewing their legal options, "and I can assure this is not the last time you will hear from them."

The letter alleges McGinniss received an "unlawfully distributed version of the Work" between Feb. 16 and Feb. 18 and distributed it. "As an author, you are well aware that your actions have significantly impaired the Copyright Owners ability to market the book," he wrote.

Morris, in a blog post, said a similar letter was also being sent to those "we have identified as also unlawfully reproducing portions of our work."

"I guess you can say we are not rolling over, and for those who ignore law and morality, we are not going away."

Anchorage activist Andree McLeod, meanwhile, is charging that Bailey, Morris and Devon are acting unethically by trying to make money off a book based on e-mails Bailey collected as a state employee. McLeod first filed an ethics complaint against Bailey last year when she found out he was working on the book.

The executive ethics act bars current or former public officials from using information gained during the course of their work for personal gain if the information hasn't been publicly disseminated. Most recently, McLeod wrote Alaska Attorney General John Burns on Friday asking what he was going to do about it.

McLeod emphasized that Bailey's agent wrote that the e-mails are "not subject to FOIA requests and therefore will not be included in the email correspondence scheduled to be released by Alaskan officials this May."

Morris last week said that Bailey had thousands of e-mails from the Palins. The state is reviewing Palin's e-mails for an expected spring release in response to public records requests, including those from news organizations and McLeod.

A draft of the manuscript leaked to news outlets and political circles late last week, with stories about it and its contents making national news. The Daily News reported that it had received copies from multiple sources, including McGinniss.

McGinniss, a best-selling author who also wrote a magazine expose on Palin and her natural gas pipeline plan, last year lived next door to the Palins in Wasilla for about three months while researching a book on the former governor, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee.

Daily News staff and wire reports