Troopergate: Palin Found To Have Unlawfully Abused Power

Despite attempts by the McCain campaign to hold off the investigation into Sarah Palin’s conduct as Governor until AFTER the election, a report was released tonight by bipartisan investigators. The investigators determined that while Gov. Sarah Palin’s termination of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan “was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statuary authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads,” they also concluded that Palin was in violation of a state ethics law that prohibits public officials from using their office for personal gain. In other words, she abused her position along with husband Todd to get Michael Wooten fired:

“The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of trust.”

Monegan commented after the hearing:

“I feel vindicated. It sounds like they’ve validated my belief and opinions. And that tells me I’m not totally out in left field.”

Matt Apuzzo at the Huffington Post reports:

The investigation revealed that Palin’s husband, Todd, has extraordinary access to the governor’s office and her closest advisers. He used that access to try to get trooper Mike Wooten fired, the report found.

[Investigator Stephen] Branchflower faulted Sarah Palin for taking no action to stop that.

You can download and read the entire report HERE.

Troopergate: Palin Found To Have Unlawfully Abused Power

McCain Spins Troopergate. Interferes With Investigation

On a very interesting web site called Mudflats, Democratic State Representative from Anchorage, Les Gara, talks openly about his take on McCain’s interference with the much talked-about “Troopergate” investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin’s conduct. Here’s a portion of Gara’s comments:

Until August 29 “Troopergate” was a small state investigation Governor Palin, and every Republican and Democrat in a Republican-led Legislature had agreed was appropriate.  But things changed the day Governor Palin joined the McCain ticket.  His handlers went ballistic that the Governor agreed to an investigation they now needed to stop.

I know Senator McCain is now running on a political platform of ”change.”  Leave aside how he’ll fight to change what he’s voted to do to this country for the last 8 years.  If you ask me, the only thing he’s changed so far is Governor Palin’s position – her decision to cooperate with this once-small investigation. 

This is one of those cases where there’s a clear truth.  It’s a clear truth – about a bi-partisan investigation – that I hope McCain’s operatives will ultimately fail at spinning into a “partisan” plot against his running mate.

To get their way, and prevent sworn testimony from leaking out on what I suspect was probably a minor breach by Governor Palin, McCain’s operatives have come to Alaska to add invective in a state where people generally get along.  They’ve chosen to vilify: 1) one of the state’s most respected public officials, Senator Hollis French; 2) the state’s most respected law enforcement official, Walt Monegan; and 3) a highly respected former DA and Victims Rights advocate a legislative committee voted 12 – 0 to hire to conduct the investigation, Steve Branchflower. 

It’s the ghost of Karl Rove.  Say something untrue enough times – like that Al Qaida is training with Saddam Hussein’s help – and people will believe it.  Not this time.  I’m not sure if I mentioned a few important facts.

Did I mention that no one ever attacked the Troopergate investigation by Alaska’s Legislature – started long before Governor Palin was placed on McCain’s ticket – until August 29?  That was the day Governor Palin joined the McCain bid for the White House. 

Did I mention that before the McCain camp got involved, the Governor stated of the Legislative investigation:  “That being the route they choose, so be it.  I’m happy to comply, to cooperate.” (, July 24, 2008).  She repeatedly stated she’d comply, and that it was the right thing to do.

Did I mention the personal attacks against our local public officials only started after Sen. McCain sent his flacks up to our small state on August 29?  They came with a mission to make America believe a Republican-initiated investigation, started with a unanimous committee vote of 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats, was a “partisan” plot.  That’s only a tough sell if people know the facts.

Did I mention they now claim the Legislature cannot legally proceed with an investigation into government misconduct (I thought Republicans didn’t like attorneys who made frivolous arguments), and that they are threatening to to go to court to stop it?   The Governor’s attorneys started writing those letters on – you guessed it – August 29.  Before then they agreed the investigation was proper.

Oh, and what about this.  Last week the McCain camp put our Governor in a bizarre position.  They told her to file an ethics complaint against herself!  Yup, again after her VP nomination.  Too weird?  What’s behind this move?  You guessed it.  Lawyers.  

To create the legal argument that the Legislature cannot investigate government misconduct, the McCain team has had her file a complaint against herself before something called the State Personnel Board.  That’s a 3 member group of Republican Gubernatorial appointees – that, if it started this week, wouldn’t get an investigation done, and reported to the public, until after the November election.  Convenient.

Hmmm.  The Legislature has announced they’d have their investigation done – if witnesses would cooperate like they were until August 29 – by October 10.  I can’t imagine why the McCain camp would prefer an investigation that doesn’t get finished until after November.  Any ideas?

To read the entire article and more of Les Gara’s comments–which become even more Orwellian than what I’ve printed–go here

McCain Spins Troopergate. Interferes With Investigation

Checking In With The GOP & Palin: Are The Religious Conservatives Still Happy?

Ahhhh, Mrs. Palin… Only a few days in and the controversies keep-a-comin’. As many already know, Palin is and has always been a hardcore pro-lifer. Sarah Palin insists that she would not even support an abortion for her own daughter even if she had been raped. While this is great news to Right-Wing Fundamentalist Christian groups, it’s probably gonna scare away many if not most of the Hillary Clinton voters that John McCain may have hoped would swing over to support Palin. Oh, did I mention that Alaska’s rape rate is an astounding 2.4 times above the national average and that 25 percent of all rapes result in unwanted pregnancies? Yes, Palin’s Alaska has the nation’s highest per-capita rate of forcible rape. And to add fuel to the fire, Palin said she would fund abstinence-only education programs in schools while “The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.” However, data shows abstinence-only programs do not take the place of teaching kids how to protect themselves from disease or unintended pregnancy.

Which brings us directly to Palin’s daughter. Palin’s 17 year old, unwed daughter, Bristol, is 5 months pregnant. The good news for Palin and the GOP conservatives is that Palin’s daughter plans to marry the father of her child. The bad news is, um, well… Palin’s daughter is 17, pregnant and currently unmarried while her mother preaches the virtues of abstinence-only programs. While I don’t personally have any issues with Bristol Palin’s pregnancy or her decision to keep the child, it does come at an awkward time for the candidate and her family and must be exceptionally hard on Bristol herself who has immediately become the center of judgement and attention. 

Barack Obama, once again taking the high-road, has asked reporters to “back off” on reports of Bristol’s pregnancy:

“People’s families are off limits,” he said. “People’s children are especially off limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president.” 

So let’s move on to something else. How about the fact that Palin is currently under a state ethics investigation currently touted as “Troopergate”. The state trooper referenced was Palin’s former brother-in-law, Michael Wooten, who had just gone through a messy divorce with Palin’s sister. The investigation will look into whether Palin abused her power by firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan after he refused to fire Wooten. Monegan was fired without explanation and claimed he was pressured by Palin’s staff to fire Wooten. 

Palin has declared her innocence. “It’s cool. I want them to ask me the questions. I don’t have anything to hide. Didn’t do anything wrong there.”

According to Associated Press Writer Steve Quinn:

In the recorded conversation, [Frank] Bailey [Palin’s director of boards and commissions] is heard saying: “Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, why on earth hasn’t, why is this guy still representing the department? He’s a horrible recruiting tool. … You know, I mean from their perspective, everyone’s protecting him.”

Now, truth be told, Wooten has been reprimanded for violating nearly a dozen laws and departmental policies since December 2001 and may or may not have deserved to be fired. He is also accused of using a Taser on his stepson, Palin’s nephew Payton. And Palin may genuinely not have known that Monegan was being pressured by her staff. But the situation raises some serious questions that may be unsettling enough to turn many undecided voters toward the Democratic candidates. 

But November is still a way’s away and anything can happen. And given the questionable integrity of some of the players, they probably will.

Checking In With The GOP & Palin: Are The Religious Conservatives Still Happy?