'First Dude' Todd Palin heavily involved in governing Alaska

More than an 'unpaid advisor' to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, 'First Dude' Todd Palin seemed to have his hands on the machinery of government and politics. Then there was the tanning bed.

By , Staff writer

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    Sarah Palin greets her husband Todd at the finish line of the 2009 Tesoro Iron Dog on the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska. Emails suggest Todd Palin was intimately involved in decisions related to state government when his wife was governor of Alaska.
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“First Dude” Todd Palin – husband of Alaska’s ex-governor and tea party favorite Sarah Palin – apparently did more than race snowmobiles, work on the Alaska pipeline, and be a commercial fisherman while his wife was busy running state government.

According to some 1,200 emails uncovered this week by MSNBC.com, “the governor's husband got involved in a judicial appointment, monitored contract negotiations with public employee unions, received background checks on a corporate CEO, added his approval or disapproval to state board appointments and passed financial information marked ‘confidential’ from his oil company employer to a state attorney.”

And then there was the tanning bed, without which no home in Alaska is complete during those loooong gray winter months. MSNBC.com investigative reporter Bill Dedman reports that “the governor coached her staff on how to disguise the amount of electrical work needed at the mansion to hook up her new tanning bed.”

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By the way, if you have nothing better to do while waiting for the Super Bowl festivities to begin, you can rummage through the emails yourself.

Some email still kept secret

In addition to the emails uncovered by MSNBC.com (many of them using Yahoo and other private email accounts), more than 200 “were withheld by the state under a claim that executive privilege extends to Todd Palin as an unpaid adviser to the government.”

The subject lines in these still-secret Todd Palin emails are tantalizing (at least to political junkies for whom any hint of scandal is mother’s milk): Everything from native Alaskan issues and budget planning to the state effort to save the Matanuska Maid dairy and a “strategy for responding to media allegations.” In some instances, Todd was more than an unpaid adviser to his wife, dealing directly with government officials.

These days, political spouses are meant to do more than pour tea and say nothing controversial. Laura Bush established the National Book Festival and represented the United States at international HIV/AIDS conferences. Michelle Obama is working on behalf of military families. Hillary Clinton took charge of national healthcare policy. (OK, she did more successful things as well.)

But it seems like in Todd and Sarah Palin, Alaskans really did get a “two-fer” in the executive mansion – maybe more than they bargained on. Liberal commentators and bloggers are having a field day, of course. But some conservatives are shaking their head as well.

“Conservatives were rightly irritated when Hillary Clinton tried to boot-strap her ceremonial position into a role in personnel and policy,” writes David Frum on his Web site “dedicated to the modernization and renewal of the Republican party and the conservative movement.” “But did even she go so far as this?”

Unpaid property taxes?

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported this week, “Records show that Sarah Palin hasn't paid any property taxes on cabins that have been built on two backcountry plots partially owned by the former Alaska governor.”

An aerial survey of the property this week showed two-story, house-sized cabins, a workshop and a sauna (for which there are no tax assessments) on the remote lots 100 miles north of Anchorage near Denali State Park.

But for now, none of this apparently matters to Sarah Palin’s devoted fans. Saturday night, she’s scheduled to give the keynote address at the first Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

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