Technology with attitude

Palin Clears Herself In TrooperGate Case?

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Somebody should tell her it doesn’t work this way…

From the AP:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – On the eve of a report on a legislative panel’s abuse-of-power investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, campaign officials released their own report clearing her of any wrongdoing.

Palin, running mate to Republican presidential nominee John McCain, is the subject of two inquiries into whether she abused her power by firing her public safety commissioner. The commissioner says he was dismissed for resisting pressure to fire Palin’s former brother-in-law, a state trooper. […]

The report the McCain-Palin campaign released Thursday night says the firing was based on a budget dispute. Since then, the report says, the matter has been muddled with innuendo, rumor and politics.

You know, I have no idea if the real report will have anything damaging in it or not, but I’m more inclined to think there’s fire behind that smoke if the McCain camp is going to the trouble to try and muddy the waters beforehand.

Jonathan Adler at The Volokh Conspiracy shares similar opinions

While I never thought the “troopergate” story made for much of a scandal, the aggressiveness with which some are trying to shut down an investigation would suggest otherwise. I suppose we’ll see soon enough.

Here’s the executive summary…

Beginning in October 2007, Governor Sarah Palin and members of her administration repeatedly clashed with Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, a member of her cabinet, over budgetary issues and department direction. On July 11, 2008, after multiple efforts to reach a consensus had failed, Governor Palin offered Mr. Monegan a new position as head of the Alaska Alcohol Control Board. Mr. Monegan declined the offer and was dismissed as a result.

In the following months, this straightforward personnel decision would be muddied with innuendo, rumor and partisan politics. The facts, however, have not changed: Mr. Monegan, who under the Alaska state constitution serves as an at-will appointee at the pleasure of the Governor, chose to ignore the direction, principles and policies of the Palin Administration. Unable to understand and accept the administration’s policies, to comply with established interagency processes, or to execute goals, Mr. Monegan failed to effectively perform his duties as a member of the cabinet and head of the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

The following analysis will further outline and highlight the multiple acts of insubordination and repeated budget clashes that led to Monegan’s dismissal. The report will also discuss the questionable origins of the Legislative Inquiry and why Governor and Todd Palin were right to express their concerns over Trooper Mike Wooten.

Governor Palin’s reform agenda. Governor Palin came into office in 2006 on a platform of reform, budget discipline and agency oversight. Governor Palin directed her agencies to embrace this policy and work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to cut costs while still meeting important department goals.

Monegan’s failure to understand and accept administration policy. Mr. Monegan proved unable to follow the policies of the Palin administration and pressed his own agenda without regard for the formal budgeting process. Emails show a pattern of Mr. Monegan refusing to take administration direction and ignoring attempts by members of Governor Palin’s staff to reach a working consensus on budgetary issues.

Monegan’s failure to comply with established interagency processes. Mr. Monegan worked outside and around the administration, lobbied for funding that was not approved and ignored policy goals that the DPS was expected to meet.

Monegan’s failure to meet Administration goals. Mr. Monegan’s dismissal was based on his repeated refusal to execute the Palin Administration’s vision on budgetary matters and the direction of the Department of Public Safety.

In the months following Mr. Monegan’s dismissal, theories behind his dismissal have arisen, including one pushed by a longtime critic of Governor Palin. On July 16, Andrew Halcro, a former state representative defeated by Governor Palin in the 2006 gubernatorial election and author of a vehemently anti-Palin blog, met Trooper Mike Wooten for drinks at a three-and-a-half hour meeting at the Sheraton Hotel bar in Anchorage. (Governor Palin’s sister had been the third of Wooten’s four wives.) Later that evening, on his blog, Halcro originated the notion that Monegan was reassigned due to his refusal to fire Wooten because of Wooten’s rogue behavior, which is chronicled below. Halcro was the first person to suggest this theory. The following document will prove Walt Monegan’s dismissal was a result of his insubordination and budgetary clashes with Governor Palin and her administration. Trooper Wooten is a separate issue.

It is worth noting, however, that the Palins had good reason to raise concerns about Trooper Mike Wooten. Trooper Wooten has a long history of unstable and erratic behavior, including drinking beer in his squad car, killing moose illegally, using a taser on his 10-year-old stepson and threatening to kill a member of the Palin family. These events are not mere allegations, nor are they limited to the Palin family; in 2006, a formal review by the director of the Alaska State Troopers formally concluded that Wooten had engaged in these acts of misconduct, imposed punishment, and stated that a civilian found to have committed the same acts would have received criminal sanctions. Understandably concerned about a pattern of behavior demonstrated by someone entrusted with the responsibilities of law enforcement, the Palin family reported the behavior to the appropriate authorities, and continued to express concern about Wooten’s continued patrol assignment of their neighborhood and claims of being above the law due to his trooper status.

More as it develops…