The Beverly Hills law firm, Bonfante Steinbeck, has issued a cease and desist order to author Joe McGinniss. McGinniss has been identified by numerous sources as the originator of copies of the manuscript to an unpublished draft of a book on Sarah Palin by her former confidante and state official, Frank Bailey. Bailey was Palin’s Director of Boards and Commissions, an office more powerful than that of the Lieutenant Governor.
Representing Bailey and his collaborators on the book, Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon, Bonfante Steinbeck attorney Dean M. Steinbeck writes:
February 20, 2011
Ken Morris, Frank Bailey and Jeanne Devon
RE: COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
I write on behalf of Ken Morris, Frank Bailey and Jeanne Devon (collectively, the “Copyright Owners”). The Copyright Owners are co-owners of the copyright in the unpublished manuscript entitled “Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years” (the “Work”).
Between February 16, 2011 and February 18, 2011 you were the recipient of an unlawfully distributed version of the Work. Although you knew that the Work was (i) distributed to you in strict confidence, and (ii) an unpublished manuscript, you choose to unlawfully distribute the Work to multiple news outlets, bloggers, political activists, and any one else you felt might be interested.
As a result of your actions, hundreds of articles and blogs have been published detailing the Work. Some of the publications have summarized the Work in great detail, and others have reproduced the Work’s content verbatim. As an author, you are well aware that your actions have significantly impaired the Copyright Owners ability to market the book.
The Copyright Owners believe your actions were done with the single intent of destroying the marketability of the Work. It is no secret that you are writing your own “tell-all” book about Sarah Palin. By releasing the Work prior to publication, you have limited the actual interest in the Work and thereby salvaged the marketability of your own book. This matter appears to be no more than that of a jealous author sabotaging a competitor via unlawful and unscrupulous means.
The Copyright Owners are currently reviewing their legal options and I can assure this is not the last time you will hear from them. Besides showing an utter lack of professionalism, you have, at a minimum, willfully caused significant damages by engaging in unfair competition and violations of copyright law. In order to minimize the damages caused by your actions, the Copyright Owners hereby demand that you cease and desist from distributing any portion of the Work. Additionally, the Copyright Owners demand that you provide a full list of the parties to whom you distributed the Work.
Several bloggers and news sources received the manuscript from McGinniss very early Friday morning last week. Many of us have written to McGinniss, asking him why he sent the manuscript out. To my knowledge, he hasn’t yet answered anyone. Some articles have been pulled or heavily modified since Bonfante Steinbeck issued a general cease and desist letter late last weekend to media outlets that were carrying extracts from what the authors claim to be a rough draft. Within the past few hours, Craig Medred’s article at the Alaska Dispatch, Why did Palin name a pro-choice judge to the Alaska Supreme Court, has been pulled from the Alaska Dispatch Blog. Medred’s article’s subject was the same issue I tackled in my only post before this one on the manuscript’s unauthorized release:
“In BLIND ALLEGIANCE TO SARAH PALIN: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years, Bailey explores such key events as Palin’s gubernatorial victory, Troopergate, illegal coordination with the Republican Governor’s Association, never-before-revealed scandals such as a judicial appointment as payoff for a favorable child custody ruling for Palin’s sister.”
That, I believe, is a serious felony in the State of Alaska. Could it be that the State, by holding onto Palin’s emails for so long – they say the emails will be released in May – is covering up this crime and others by the Palin family until the statute of limitations makes prosecution improbable or impossible? If that is the case, then we need to see the emails the state has on why they’re holding onto her emails.
McGinniss’ release of the manuscript has been vexing to the Alaska bloggers who supported him while he stayed in Alaska last year. I’m not one of them, though. After setting up his security perimeter at the house he rented next to the Palin cult compound on Lake Lucille last May, he and I had a disagreement, resulting in no further contact. Jeanne Devon, one of the parties to the book, helped McGinniss extensively throughout his stay here, though, and is deeply hurt by the author’s action.
McGinniss, it has been reported to me, has all but finished his book on Palin, as has author Geoffrey Dunn. Unlike Bailey et al, McGinniss and Dunn have publishers lined up. Supposedly the manuscript found its way to McGinniss, after it had been sent out to a number of publishers by the author, hoping to find a buyer.
Update – Tuesday 7:00 a.m. PST:
1. Joe McGinniss emailed me late yesterday afternoon, declining to answer my query on why he released the manuscript. He wrote “Now that Jeanne [Devon] has got lawyers involved, I’m just not able to comment.”
2. In the Tuesday edition of the Anchorage Daily News, an unsigned article notes that GOP activist and longtime Palin foe Andree McLeod:
is charging that Bailey, Morris and Devon are acting unethically by trying to make money off a book based on e-mails Bailey collected as a state employee. McLeod first filed an ethics complaint against Bailey last year when she found out he was working on the book.
The executive ethics act bars current or former public officials from using information gained during the course of their work for personal gain if the information hasn’t been publicly disseminated. Most recently, McLeod wrote Alaska Attorney General John Burns on Friday asking what he was going to do about it.
McLeod emphasized that Bailey’s agent wrote that the e-mails are “not subject to FOIA requests and therefore will not be included in the email correspondence scheduled to be released by Alaskan officials this May.”
Morris last week said that Bailey had thousands of e-mails from the Palins. The state is reviewing Palin’s e-mails for an expected spring release in response to public records requests, including those from news organizations and McLeod.
This is more of the kind of bizarre aftermath Palin’s sloppy tenure as governor has saddled upon Alaskans. One Alaska blogger, Jesse Griffin, has finished the manuscript. He writes this morning:
If you thought Sarah Palin was vindictive, you will not be disappointed by this book.
If you thought the personal mythology about her family was bullshit, this is the book for you.
And if you thought that Sarah Palin uses her looks to get away with everything just shy of murder, this book will make that an absolute certainty.