Five years after University of Tennessee student David Kernell made national headlines when he was charged with perusing through the personal email account of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, then a 2008 vice presidential nominee on the Republican ticket, in search of politically damage material he never found, Kernell is a free man — truly free.
So reports the News Sentinel. More: Although Kernell wrapped up a year in federal prison in November 2011, he remained under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office through November 2014. But earlier this month, in one of his last acts before retiring in August, U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips freed Kernell from that final requirement.
Phillips’ ruling came after Kernell’s defense attorney, Wade Davies, filed a motion in which he stated Kernell had paid an adequate price for what Davies’ has long termed a youthful prank, has now completed his degree at UT and qualifies for the extraordinary move to release him from supervision.
The U.S. attorney’s office did not resist the move.
And Phillips did not tarry long in making his decision.
Although Phillips is a Republican appointee and Kernell is the son of a longtime Democrat (state representative from Memphis), Phillips did not want Kernell to go to prison in the first place. When a federal jury rejected all but one felony charge filed against Kernell in the case, Phillips ordered Kernell to spend a year and a day in a Knoxville halfway house. But the U.S. Bureau of Prisons refused and instead sent Kernell, by then 22, to prison. Judges can recommend at which facility a defendant should go, the bureau makes the final call.
Although the case has been dubbed the “Palin hacker case” in the media, this was no sophisticated computer hack, testimony showed.
After reading reports that Palin may have used her personal account for official business in her role as Alaska governor, Kernell, the son of longtime Memphis Democratic state lawmaker Mike Kernell, decided to go surfing the Web in search of the answer to her password security question.
After successfully guessing the password, he changed it and posted it online along with screenshots of some Palin family photographs and a few email messages.
He declared on the 4 Chan discussion board that he had found nothing politically damaging in the account.
By Bill Poovey, Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The government paid nearly $2,500 for Sarah Palin’s husband to come to the trial of a Tennessee college student who hacked into her email — even though Todd Palin never testified, court records show.
In all, the government paid more than $29,000 to fly members of the Palin family and other witnesses to Knoxville, send a prosecutor to Alaska for research and pay other travel expenses, according to the Department of Justice records obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request. Air travel totaled about $18,600, and hotel bills amounted to nearly $3,300.
The thousands of dollars spent by prosecutors helped them win a conviction on one felony and one misdemeanor charge against David Kernell, who finishes his 10-month sentence on Wednesday. Prosecutors have said that Kernell’s punishment for the hacking during Palin’s failed 2008 vice presidential bid should deter any hackers who considered targeting candidates in next fall’s presidential election.
The former Alaska governor, her daughter Bristol and an aide were among the witnesses called to the stand, but the chief prosecutor said he decided Todd Palin’s testimony wasn’t needed. Sarah and Bristol Palin told jurors that they harassed and their lives were disrupted after Kernell hacked into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo! Email account and made screenshots public that included personal email addresses and cell phone numbers.
Womick Bashes Fitzhugh
Freshman Republican state Rep. Rick Womick, in an op-ed piece published by the Daily News Journal, attacks the state House minority leader. An excerpt: The Democrats current figurehead is state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley. Mr. Fitzhugh has been on a barnstorming circuit of late trying to convince Tennesseans that the overwhelming majority of them who voted for reform last fall are wrong. While his claims have as much merit as ocean front property in Rutherford County, Mr. Fitzhugh truly believes what he is peddling. Sadly, he is conveniently ignoring the fact voters sent a message last fall that was directed squarely at him and his big government party.
…Mr. Fitzhugh needs to honestly answer why he would allow his fellow liberals to yet again file a bill instituting a state income tax this year — a notion Tennesseans have continually rejected. Why won’t Democrats listen to citizens? Do they really believe Tennesseans need to be paying more taxes in these rough economic times? Apparently, Mr. Fitzhugh does, because he also let his Democrat friends file a bill increasing the gas and diesel tax by 10 cents! Not only would this harm motorists, it would effectively cripple Tennessee’s vibrant shipping industry. Yet another Democrat bill would have mandated all Tennesseans who own buildings to conduct a costly, comprehensive energy audit.
These are not part of a pathway to prosperity and job creation. These are the dark avenues of economic ruin that led Tennesseans to throw Democrats out of office in record-breaking numbers a little over six months ago. Eldridge Boasts
In something of a contrast to Womick, state Rep Jimmy Eldridge, R-Jackson, brags about GOP accomplishments rather than bashing Democrats in a Jackson Sun op-ed. Excerpt: Chief among them (accomplishments) was my legislation, House Bill 1503. This law enacts much-needed reforms to the often complicated Tennessee workers compensation laws. It is a clear win for the business community in our State that has, for too long, been saddled with red tape by government.
At the same, this law balances those realities with the legitimate needs of workers who have been hurt while at work. Additionally, my Committee passed updates to how unemployment compensation is calculated, strengthened the constitutional rights of workers, and ensured all employees will have a fair and equitable hearing when disputes arise.
Overall, this General Assembly focused its attention squarely on job growth for Tennesseans. We wanted to make sure that both short-term economic development and long-term job growth were given top priority. On Caylee’s Law
Commercial Appeal columnist Otis Sanford doesn’t think much of the rush to file legislation enacting a “Caylee’s Law” in Tennessee and elsewhere.
On the other hand, the Jackson Sun says the idea is worth trying. Bob Cooper on Bath Salts
In a Daily News Journal piece, Attorney General Bob Cooper hails a new state law prohibiting synthetic drugs marketed as “bath sales” and “plant food.” Running on Cutes and Crazy??
In a Johnson City Press column, Jan Hearne describes her past activities as a feminist activist and suggests progress didn’t lead exactly where she thought it would. When Geraldine Ferraro was chosen as Walter Mondale’s running mate, we rejoiced. When they lost to Reagan, we told ourselves the country wasn’t quite ready for a female vice president or president, but some day …
Well, some day actually might be here, and what do we have?
Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, a bizarro world candidate and a question mark running on cutes and crazy.
President Barack Obama ran ahead of five major Republican candidates for president in Tennessee, according to a Vanderbilt University poll reported Sunday in The Tennessean. But many in the 700-person survey they would prefer to select neither candidate, suggesting voters in the state are hoping a standard-bearer will emerge from the long primary season that is only now beginning. “I don’t think this will signal that Obama is going to win in Tennessee. I just think it shows that Republicans have work to do,” said John Geer, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt who helped oversee the poll.
“They (voters) don’t know much about most of them (the candidates). … The nominating process will make Republicans look better.”
Obama’s approval rating stands at 44 percent, virtually unchanged since January, according to the poll. Fifty percent of Tennesseans disapprove of Obama, the poll found.
…(Of Republican candidates included in the poll) former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney did best, trailing the president by just 2.3 percentage points. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin did worst, lagging by 13.5 percentage points.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann fell8.6 percentage points to 12.3 percentage points behind Obama.
Adam Nickas, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, brushed off the deficits.
“Any poll that says Obama is up in Tennessee is a joke and shouldn’t be taken seriously,” he said. “Whoever the Republican nominee is, is going to be in a strong position to defeat Obama in Tennessee and nationwide.”