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  • stakeholder_9999 stakeholder_9999 Apr 10, 2013 10:49 AM Flag

    Former oil and gas commissioner's missteps went beyond his partisan work.

    Former oil and gas commissioner's missteps went beyond his partisan work.

    By RICHARD MAUER — Anchorage Daily News

    Sarah Palin never thought of herself as an investigator.

    Yet there she was, hacking uncomfortably into Randy Ruedrich's computer, looking for evidence that the state Republican Party boss had broken the state ethics law while a member of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

    Ruedrich had resigned on Nov. 8 -- so suddenly that when Palin, the commission's chairwoman, caught the news at the end of a television newscast, she didn't know whether he had quit the commission or quit the party to resolve his conflicts of interest. When she learned it was the commission, Palin wasn't surprised that she'd heard it first from the media, given her difficulty in getting any word from the governor's office about Ruedrich, who played a major role in Gov. Frank Murkowski's election.

    The next week, when Palin went back to work at the AOGCC, she noticed that Ruedrich had removed his pictures from the walls and the personal effects from his desk. But as she and an AOGCC technician worked their way around his computer password at the behest of an assistant attorney general in Fairbanks, they found his cleanup had not extended to his electronic files.

    The technician "said it looked like he tried to delete this, but she knew a way to go around and get some of the deleted stuff," Palin said in an interview. "I didn't know what I was looking for, but I was there."

    Palin found dozens of e-mail messages and documents stacked up in trash folders, many showing work Ruedrich had been doing for the Republican Party and others showing how closely he worked with at least one company he was supposed to be regulating.

    For Palin, a fellow Republican who was appointed to the commission by Murkowski about the same time as Ruedrich, the evidence came as little surprise.

    For months, she had been receiving complaints about Ruedrich from staff, from a fellow commissioner and

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