Sarah Palin’s Transparency Problem

Sarah Palin has a problem with the truth. Despite repeated requests — and even more delays — the former Alaska Governor has yet to release emails sent and received while she was in office. Meanwhile, the origin story for “refudiate” took on shades of untruth this week. Palin’s lack of transparency will only hurt her dimming chances in 2012.

Sarah Palin's Transparency Problem

Back in 2008, when John McCain chose Palin has his running mate, a number of news organizations—the Associated Press, NBC News and ‘The Juneau Empire’—filed a Freedom of Information request to review 25,000 of Palin’s gubernatorial correspondence with her husband and senior staff. Alaska law says all requests must be processed within 10 days, but state staffers, all hired by either Palin or her former running mate, have filed fifteen delays in the emails’ release.

Palin’s team has requested yet another delay, this time until May 30, 2011, which would put the total amount of days passed at 986 days, twenty more than Palin’s total tenure in office, 966.

Alaska Attorney Generals—three have worked on this case so far—have offered numerous explanations for why the records remain sealed: They couldn’t produce electronic copies, even though Alaska’s law specifies they must; it was too expensive; they have to review which emails contain classified secrets; the new governor, Palin’s former running mate, Sean Parnell, has to green light every decision. The list goes on, and the clock continues to tick.

Secretive emails aren’t the only example of Palin’s creative “truthiness:” the Republican politico seemed proud as pie earlier this year, when her infamous word “refudiate” won “Word of the Year” by The New Oxford English Dictionary.

By Palin’s telling, which I initially supported, she was a 21st Century Shakespeare evolving the English language “‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate’… English is a living language,” she tweeted at the time. “Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”

Those of you brave enough to watch Palin’s TLC reality show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” may have noticed this weekend that the former Governor stepped back a bit from “refudiate” and its linguistic ingenuity: “I pressed an F instead of a P and people freaked out,” she explained of the word’s birth. “Make lemonade out of lemons.”

Others wonder whether even that explanation holds water, because Palin said the word on Fox News even before she wrote them, telling Sean Hannity that the President and First Lady should lambaste the NAACP for calling the Tea Party racist: “[They] have power in their words. They could refudiate what it is that this group is saying.”

So, which is it, Sarah: were you furthering the language with “refudiate,” or simply too embarrassed to admit a mistake that brought so much press?

Despite our political parties’ and sects’ many differences, one thing remains the same: as long as information doesn’t harm our nation, the American people crave transparency.

No successful political candidate or figure has ever won or even run on the “I’m going to keep secrets” platform. That’s just not what our nation’s about; we believe, as model citizen Superman would say, “truth, justice, and the American way.” Does Palin?

Palin appears to have forgotten her 2008 campaign pledges, in which she said, “As Alaska’s governor, I put the government’s checkbook online so that people can see where their money’s going. We’ll bring that kind of transparency, that responsibility, and accountability back. We’re going to bring that back to D.C.” Clearly Palin doesn’t think such transparency extends into the rest of her public life.

If the former Governor and her team don’t get cracking on those emails, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do ahead of a potential presidential run, far more explaining than anything that could arise out of Palin’s emails.