About that Palin ethics investigation.

About that Palin ethics investigation.


Since this topic has been invoked several times in the comments, a quick and dirty search was in order. FWIW this is wikipedia’s entry on the matter. As with all things Wiki, it should not be considered authoritative without confirmation from other sources, but it’s the best summary I could find:

Governor Palin is currently under investigation by an independent investigator hired by a legislative panel to determine if she abused her power when firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. [44][45] On July 11, 2008, Palin dismissed Walter Monegan as Commissioner of Public Safety and instead offered him a position as executive director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which he subsequently turned down.[46][47] Monegan alleged shortly after his dismissal that it may have been partly due to his reluctance to fire an Alaska State Trooper, Mike Wooten, who had been involved in a divorce and child custody battle with Palin’s sister, Molly McCann.[48] In 2006, before Palin was governor, Wooten was briefly suspended for ten days for threatening to kill McCann’s (and Palin’s) father, tasering his 11-year-old stepson (at the stepson’s request), and violating game laws. After a union protest, the suspension was reduced to five days.[49]

Palin asserted that her dismissal of Monegan was unrelated to the fact that he had not fired Wooten, and asserts that Monegan was instead dismissed for not adequately filling state trooper vacancies, and because he “did not turn out to be a team player on budgeting issues.”[50] Palin acknowledged that a member of her administration, Frank Bailey, did contact the Department of Public Safety regarding Wooten, but both Palin and Bailey say that happened without her knowledge and was unrelated to her dismissal of Monegan.[50] Bailey was put on leave for two months for acting outside the scope of his authority as the Director of Boards and Commissions. Commissioner Monegan received no severance pay, though at the same time another dismissed Commissioner, Charles Kopp (who served only 11 days) received $10,000.[51]

In response to Palin’s statement that she had nothing to hide, in August 2008 the Alaska Legislature hired Steve Branchflower to investigate Palin and her staff for possible abuse of power surrounding the dismissal, though lawmakers acknowledge that “Monegan and other commissioners serve at will, meaning they can be fired by Palin at any time.”[52] The investigation is being overseen by Democratic State Senator Hollis French, who says that the Palin administration has been cooperating and thus subpoenas are unnecessary.[53] The Palin administration itself was the first to release an audiotape of Bailey making inquiries about the status of the Wooten investigation.[50][54]

First blush – They got nothin’.

  • khaki

    ” Palin acknowledged that a member of her administration, Frank Bailey, did contact the Department of Public Safety regarding Wooten, but both Palin and Bailey say that happened without her knowledge and was unrelated to her dismissal of Monegan.”

    This sounds Scooter Libby-like. They may not find anything, but that’s weird that a subordinate would make an illegal inquirey about his boss’s personal life. Perhaps she didn’t know ,but very odd.

  • http://sporkmonger.com/ Bob Aman

    Yeah, there’s nothing here.

  • rusty075

    It should be noted that “serve at will” does not equal, “can be fired at whim”. Monegan could have a claim that his firing for non-job-related reasons constituted a violation of his civil rights. We’ve seen that blanket be thrown over scandals before.

    But perhaps more importantly is the first impression impact of this mini-scandal. Case in point, this morning one of cable news channels that was on the TV while I was brushing my teeth had a splash screen up that had 4 items on it: A picture of Palin, the fact that she is 44 years old, the governor of Alaska, and was currently under investigation for ethics violations. The investigation doesn’t have to lead anywhere for it to taint the public perception. At the very least it will take her off message for several days.

    And, this is a new investigation. This isn’t old news like the Keating Five, or Biden’s plagiarism, or Rev. Wright. Things may still bubble to the surface over the next weeks that will keep interjecting this into the media. Old skeletons in the closet can be dealt with once; new ones still walk around and rattle their chains.

  • Not Obama Girl

    What does it say about troopers in Alaska. The trooper brother-in-law tasered his 11 year old stepson and received a 5 day suspension as punishment.

    What scumbags are running that union.

    In Jersey, he would be getting molested by inmates right now.

  • Andres

    “serve at will, meaning they can be fired by Palin at any time.”

    Looks like yes, they can be fired on a whim. Sure, you don’t want to make it look like it was a blatant abuse of power, but essentially, it is within her power.

  • kranky kritter

    We’ll see Rusty. Fact is, the media is usually smart enough not to make a big deal out of such cases if they have find out informally that the real story is that the person deserved to get fired but is using due process to raise a stink anyway.

    Much will rest on what we find out about the guy who got fired, and what his reputation is. For now, there seems to me to be no smoke nor any fire. Palin has a rep as someone who has ruffled feathers by ousting corrupt insiders. And regular folks are savvy enough to know that investigations like these ones may well be blowback from the insider network. I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting this story to harm Palin unless someone comes up with actual info suggesting she really did anything wrong.

    Which IMO is as it should be.

  • http://girlinshortshorts.blogspot.com/ Becky

    The “scandal” is a joke. Frankly, even if she did ask the Commissioner to fire the guy it would not have been out of line–he is the type you really don’t want running around with a gun enforcing the law:http://girlinshortshorts.blogspot.com/2008/07/pork-machine-attacks-sarah-palin.html

  • Rusty075

    Kranky: Yes, this scandal is definitely the “blow-over” type. If she wasn’t the just-announced VP pick this thing would never extend beyond the state lines as a news story, and even there it would flare up for a day, then disappear during the investigation, and then flare up for another day when the investigators inevitably reach the conclusion that there isn’t enough evidence of wrongdoing to pursue a case before disappearing forever.

    My point was that ~90% of Americans currently know these facts about her:

    -She’s young enough to be McCain’s daughter. (visually the difference is even bigger…they should avoid appearing on stage together. She makes him look ancient)
    -She’s governor of Alaska.
    -She’s “under investigation”. Which even if they never hear about the investigation again she is runs the risk of being instantly filed away as being, “another one of those” types of politicians, even if the charges are completely baseless.

  • KC

    This may highlight how far out in right field Republican’s anti-worker, anti-union policies are. Notice that Wooten is in a policeman’s union, which protested his suspension. Thus, it was not as easy as “Barracuda” Palin wanted to get her ex-brother-in-law fired. So, she fired Monegan instead and tells conflictng stories about why. Monegan actually does have both civil rights recourse and is whistleblower here, exposing Palin inappropriate retaliation. Republicans love the idea that a boss can do whatever s/he wants, but clearly it is more complicated than that or an independent prosecutor would not have been appointed. More importantly, this will tarnish her image and make her look like a vengeful, abusive, Chenyesque boss. Maybe now Alaskans will also see why they should join unions!

  • Ed

    Ha, ha, you repubs crack me up. If Obama’s VP pick had a current investigation against him you’d be screaming bloody murder and bashing his poor judgement.

    You get the good with the bad. If you demand an idealogue as your running mate, and this is the best available, you get her warts and all, and we’ll be only too pleased to exploit it.

    BTW, the report on the investigation is due 8/31, so that’s 2 months of stress for you guys, and not a whole lot of time to rebound if it does turn out to be nothing. Although I figure Karl Rove will probably see that the charges are dropped within the next few weeks.

  • Rich

    What charges are you referring to?

    Surely you are not presuming guilt until she proves her innocense?

    Besides, we’ve got plenty of other things about the Obamessiah to be screaming bloody murder and bashing his poor judgement about!! It’s a long list, brother!!

  • gerryf

    Can’t decide on this one–I fundamentally agree that an at will employee serves at the will of his or her employer, but my sense of fair play still wants a legitimate reason and her’s seems kind of week.

    Whether or not you agree or disagree with that, you have to question her judgment, though, when she replaced her ex-brother-in-law with a man reprimanded for sexual harassment in a previous job.

    It’s not that a sexual harassment complaint cannot be a trumped up charge; I have a friend who was the victim of such a complaint and not only was it completely unfounded, he was exonerated and the complainer was the one who got the written reprimand when it was shown that her story was impossible.

    So, I can give the guy the benefit of the doubt even though he got the reprimand. The problem is that Palin never properly vetted the guy and then denied there ever was a complaint….kind of poor judgment.

    And now it seems McCain met Palin only once? Goodness, I hope he spent a little more time looking into her past, then she spent looking into her top cop.

  • Erv

    Looks like she will fit in good to me. Move over Bush, Cheney, and you to Rove.

  • gyster

    It seems that for every discussion of the investigation into Gov. Palin’s ethical behavior there is one person who wishes to point out the obvious, and unrelated fact that tasering one’s son is bad. You may as well offer up, “My dad has a shovel!” because it has as much bearing on the true issue in this case. These ‘insights’ are offered up to seemingly make it ok for the Governor to abuse her office and fire a man who refuses to fire the offensive brother-in-law. Actually, it has no place in this discussion because it has no bearing on whether or not Palin is a good choice for VP. I hope that no one gets tripped up by these insertions because it could cause some to miss the more important issue – this being whether the American people should elect an administration who’s VP candidate is currently under investigation for ethics violations. One would think eight years of this type of behavior from the executive branch would be more than enough to cause even the most staunch Republicans to at least be a little skeptical. Contrarily, the machine is finely tuned, and boasting about her qualifications as Mayor of…sorry, what was the town…and steadily downplaying the significance of the ongoing ethics investigation.