Todd and Sarah Palin did not respond to several requests by msnbc.com to answer questions about his role in state government, but Sarah Palin's attorney, Tom Van Flein, sent this e-mailed statement:
From Tom Van Flein, on behalf of Sarah and Todd Palin:
"A recent article discusses what purports to be a new "revelation" that Todd Palin was a "powerful first dude." To most Alaskans, and to the millions of people who read "Going Rogue" this is neither new nor a revelation. Like many married couples, including political 'power couples,' it is common for a spouse to play the role of key advisor to the other spouse. The Palins were no different. Todd Palin had official and unofficial duties, but one thing was clear: he was a key advisor to Governor Palin and involved in her efforts to improve the State of Alaska. Officially, in addition to the duties traditionally expected of the spouse of the Governor, Todd Palin was put in charge of a Workforce Development commission with the goal of increasing vocational education opportunities and awareness. But unlike some spouses of elected officials, Todd Palin did not travel with an entourage, had no designated office, had no title other than "First Dude", received no pay, and had no staff. He donated his time to the people of Alaska by assisting the Governor. Each spouse of the chief executive is free to define his or her own role. From the policy oriented Hillary Clinton, to the more traditional and charitable work of Laura Bush, to the combined policy/traditionalist role of Michelle Obama, the first spouse takes on the duties within their interests and within the context of their marriage to the chief executive. Todd was no different.
What is interesting is that the same media outlet that today breathlessly reports how close the Palins were while Sarah Palin was Governor--too close for at least one reporter--earlier reported that the Palins were not close enough and headed for divorce. Consistency is not necessarily a hallmark for investigative journalists, but certainly truth should be. Let's look at the most serious accusation made. The article posits that Todd Palin "passed financial information marked 'confidential' from his oil company employer to a state attorney." The author clearly implies that Todd Palin, who was not a member of the British Petroleum management team, obtained secret "financial" information and surreptitiously gave it to a State assistant attorney general. The true facts are as follows: Todd Palin received an email from a third party (an email that was apparently making the rounds in Alaska) and he forwarded that to a state attorney on August 29, 2007. But the information in the email itself was dated February 19, 2004--three and half years earlier--and the information addressed safety performance for 2003 and overall productivity. Of course, as a highly regulated producer in Alaska, this is largely the same information provided to state regulatory agencies, taxing authorities, and even publicly disclosed to its shareholders. See BP Annual Report and Accounts 2003 & http://www.bp.com/extendedsectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9021605&contentId=7040949
The latter part of the email referred to performance data for 2005 again analyzing production, costs and safety. So there are two distinct errors in the article: (1) the email itself was circulating in Alaska and was simply forwarded to Todd by a third party, it was not an email that was sent by BP to Todd Palin wherein he was told it was "confidential" and (2) the type of information within the email was years old and all, if not most, was a matter of public record under the tight regulatory strictures BP operates under and its release of data to shareholders, securities regulators, the department of Revenue, and the state oil and gas commission, among others.
The bottom line is that this story reveals nothing new. Todd Palin was, and remains, a close advisor to the Governor. Those in the administration knew this, and the public knew this. There is nothing unusual, untoward or inappropriate for a spouse of a chief executive to provide guidance, input and hands on assistance.