Media awaits release of National Guard emails

Bill Walker State of State (Photo by Skip Gray/360North)
Gov. Bill Walker promised an investigation into the Alaska National Guard and justice for victims during his State of the State address in January. (Photo by Skip Gray/360North)

The State of Alaska still has not released all documents and emails related to the Alaska National Guard scandal. Alaska Public Media and the Alaska Dispatch News sued the state for the documents last October after the Parnell administration took four months to deny public record requests.

At the time, Gov. Sean Parnell was running for re-election and media outlets argued it was important for the public to know how Parnell dealt with allegations of corruption and sexual misconduct in the Guard.

A federal report in September found serious problems in the Guard, including fraud, favoritism and an overall lack of trust in Guard leadership.

Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills wouldn’t say exactly how many emails will be released, but she says they’ll be available later this month.

“We are a few weeks behind on when we thought we would be getting the documents to the plaintiffs in the National Guard case, but we are looking at releasing those documents to the plaintiffs and having them ready no later than April 24. Hopefully earlier, but definitely no later than the 24th,” Mills says.

John McKay, the attorney representing the media outlets, says the emails are just as important now as they were before the election.

“There’s serious underlying questions about the National Guard, the treatment of Guard members, the standing of the Guard and its reputation and performance that really needed to be addressed. That didn’t end with the election and neither did our interest in the documents,” McKay says.

McKay says the state could and should have released the emails by now. He suspects the state is trying to time the release of the emails with the publication of a report by retired Juneau Judge Patricia Collins.

Collins was chosen by the Walker administration in January to investigate the allegations of sexual assault and harassment in the Guard. Walker campaigned on the issue, saying Parnell was stonewalling to keep alleged wrongdoing out of the public eye until after the election. He said he’d make transparency of public records a higher priority in his administration. Walker has been in office almost exactly as long as it took the Parnell administration to respond to the original record request.

Collins’ report is due by the end of April.

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