Friday, October 10, 2008

Sarah Palin: Troopergate report

Update: It's 21:00 in New York.

ABC News reports:
Sarah Palin abused her power when she fired her Public Safety Commissioner this July, a state investigation has concluded.

The investigator, Stephen Branchflower, found that Monegan's refusal to fire Wooten "was not the sole reason" but was "likely a contributing factor" to his firing.

Branchflower also said Palin's attorney general failed to provide him with emails of Palin's that he had requested as part of the probe.

Palin violated the state Ethics Act, Branchflower found.

The report is here.

Updated: Friday at 14:00 Alaska time, 18:00 New York time.
AFP [Reuters] reports: "Members of Alaska's Legislative Council [seven Republicans and four Democrats] began a closed-doors meeting in Anchorage shortly after 9:00 am local time (1700 GMT) where they were to be briefed by the inquiry's lead investigator, Steve Branchflower.The 14 council members will then vote on whether to publish the lengthy report online, possibly later Friday, officials told AFP."

The report is 1000 pages long. To get an idea of what the report is likely to contain, check out my Troopergate Timeline (I have posted it below).

* * * *
Thursday, an Alaska high court ruled against the McCain campaign's effort to block the Alaska State Legislature's investigation into the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan by Gov. Sarah Palin.

It is alleged that Gov. Palin had pressured Monegan to fire a state trooper named Mike Wooten. Mike Wooten had been married to Palin's sister, Molly. The divorce had been messy. . .

My Troopergate Timeline follows. For the complete Sarah Palin timeline -- which covers other major Palin scandals -- see this post.

Troopergate Timeline

2001 - marriage between Palin's sister Molly and trooper Wooten (photo, right)

2005 - Apr 11 Palin's younger sister (wife of Wooten) filed for divorce
2005 - Apr 11 Palin's father, Chuck Heath, filed police complaint about Wooten. He handed the phone to his daughter Molly, who told state police that her husband had threatened her father's life.
2005 - Apr 11 - On the phone with her sister Molly, Sarah Palin overheard Mike Wooten make death threat against her father. When interviewed by Police about the incident Palin said that overhearing the threat, she drove up to their house, watched Mike yelling at Molly through a window a neighbor, and then asked the neighbor to continue watching on her behalf, explaining "I had ah a meeting I couldn't miss." Palin does not call the police
2005 - Apr - investigation of Sarah Palin's brother-in-law Mike Wooten by Alaskan State Troopers begins: allegation of misconduct involving family members over two year period.
2005 - May - domestic complaint incident involving Mike Wooten and Sarah's sister Molly Wooten, Sarah and Todd Palin.
2005 - Aug 10 - sent an angry, three-page e-mail to Col. Julia Grimes, head of the state police, complaining about lack of action taken against Wooten, describing death threat she witnessed Wooden make against her father.
2005 - Aug - Sarah and Todd Palin interviewed again by investigators.
2005 - Oct - Palin's sister's divorce trial to end marriage to Wooten.

2005- Oct 27 - Anchorage Superior Court Judge John Suddock reviewed the complaints filed by Palin and her family. The judge "expressed puzzlement about why the family was trying to get Wooten fired, since depriving the trooper of a job would harm his ability to pay family support to Palin's sister." Judge Suddock warned Palin and her faimly that "disparaging" of relatives "would not be tolerated," calling it "a form of child abuse."

2006 - Mar 1 -Grimes suspends trooper Mike Wooten for 3 days
2006 - Dec - appointed Walter Monegan Public Safety Commissioner, a cabinet position (photo below).

2007 - Jan - Palin's husband Todd invites Monegan to Governor's office and asks him to look into the Wooten matter. "Monegan did and later told Todd there was nothing he could do because the matter was closed." (WaPo)
2007 - Jan "called Monegan a few days later on his cellphone, and that he told her the same thing." (WaPo)
2007 - Feb brings Wooten matter up again with Monegan "
in the state capitol building and Monegan warned her to stay at arm's length. Palin backs off, but indirectly mentions matter in some emails. (WaPo)
2007 - Apr - husband Todd (next photo) calls Wooten's boss, Col. Audie Holloway, to give her pictures of Wooten driving a snowmobile when he was out on a worker's compensation claim (WaPo) How did Todd know about the compensation claim?.
2007 - fall - Monegan said Palin indirectly mentioned Wooten to him again (WaPo). Monegan said he also got telephone calls from three Palin appointees

2008 - FEB
2008 - Feb - tape recording made that showed Frank Bailey, the state’s director of boards and commissions, called Lt. Rodney Dial at the State Troopers about Wooten. (Listen to call here)
2008 - Jul 11 - Palin fires Public Safety Commissioner and former police chief Walter Monegan, hires Charles M. Kopp
2008 - Jul 19 - "Monegan went public, alleging that his firing was connected to his failure to remove Wooten."
2008 - Jul (3rd week) - Andrew Halco's blog highlights longstanding dispute between Palin family and Wooten.
2008 - Jul 25 - resignation of Charles M. Kopp (hired to replace chief Monegan) on sexual misconduct charges.
He was given a $10,000 severance payment paid by the Gov.'s office.
2008 - Jul 29 - "The state legislature launches investigation, legislators agree to spend up to 100,000 to investigate Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of Public Safety Commissioner Monegan. The governor asked the attorney general's office to conduct an internal investigation. " WaPo and TPM

2008 - AUG
2008 - Aug 13 - initial investigation found “14 members of her administration made more than 20 calls to Monegan and other public safety officials regarding Mike Wooten since she became governor in 2006.” WaPo notes "only one call was determined to be improper, a tape-recorded conversation between Palin's chief of boards and commissions, Frank Bailey, to a police lieutenant."
2008 - Aug 13 - "Palin suspended Bailey with pay, saying she knew nothing about the call" and that he had acted alone (WaPo). That call had, in fact, been taped (Listen here)
2008 - Aug (mid) - governor's office released the audiotape of Bailey: "Such evidence points to a violation of Wooten's privacy" according to State Sen. Hollis French (WaPo)

2008 - SEP
2008 - Sep (early) - efforts by McCain campaign to derail Alaska State investigation into Palin firing of Monegan.

2008 - OCT
2008 - Oct 10 - new deadline set by investigation supervisor Hollis French for completion of Alaska State investigation into possible misconduct by Palin in firing of Monegan.

the McCain Campaign has conducted it's own investigation of Troopergate. You can read about that here. Or go straight to the Jotman's complete Timeline of Palin Scandals (here).


  1. I was very interested to listen to the taped phone call between Frank Bailey and Lt. Rodney Dial. There can be little doubt Bailey rang on a pretense before moving on to his real agenda - trooper Wooten. On several occasions, Bailey clearly stated that Gov. Palin (and Todd) was displeased with the way things had gone. There can also be little doubt from the way his sentences were worded that he was reiterating conversations that he had had in the first person (i.e. conversations in which Gov. Palin was involved and not just between himself and Todd Palin). What is also interesting to note is that once the investigation had commenced, Bailey's was suspended (WITH PAY) while Palin distanced herself from the whole thing. It smells very much like a deal may have been made between Palin and Bailey (the fall guy). I believe he has now been reinstated and is back at his desk (keeping his head down I'll bet!). It will be interesting to read the final report tomorrow and see if the truth outs or whether it is swept under the carpet like so many politically sensitive issues are.

  2. I'm very excited to read the report, too. However, I wonder how much we'll really learn?

    For starters, Sarah Palin didn't submit to questioning. She said she'd only go along with questions from the personnel board -- and she has the power to fire those folks.

    Second, Todd Palin wrote his answers. Huh? No follow ups or anything... AND I'm sure McCain's lawyers helped him craft each question.

    Let's see what happens.

  3. It seems a great lack of information to me that you didn't mention at all the disciplinary action taken against Wooten or the results of the administrative investigation in 2005-2006 after the Palin family accusations, see and The investigation found him guilty of shooting a mouse without licence, tasering the 10 year-old stepson, drinking and driving during service and took disciplinary action against him. The investigation also established that Wooten had indeed threatened the life of Palin's father, but that it wasn't a crime because the father wasn't present at the time of the threat (not a direct threat). I think this facts are relevant. I am sure they escaped you and that you will be willing to include them in your timeline now.

  4. Let me see if I have this right. the Report stated that she abused her power but did not break the law. Although that is a brief paraphrase let's see if we can translate into English the actual finding that everyone is hyping:

    This is the section of the Executive Branch Code that Branchflower holds she violated:
    Sec. 39.52.110. Scope of code.
    (a) 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 that trust.

    Plain English Translation: “The Governor DID NOT break the law. But I think I know what she was thinking when she fired that guy, so since I think that, she therefore abused her power. By the way, you should believe me about what she was thinking and NOT her because I am an “Independent Investigator” that just happened to be hired by the “WE LOVE AND WORSHIP OBAMA CLUB OF ALASKA,” (who changed my report deadline from after the presidential election to three weeks before) after I begged for the job and the guy that got fired is my fellow cop buddy from our days on the force back in Anchorage.

    WTF - Is anybody in there?


  5. AnonymousMay 17, 2009

    So let me get this straight... let's just say for the sake of argument that she did fire Monegan because he wouldn't fire Wooten (which I don't think really has legs when you look at all the other stuff that was wrong with Monegan). So what? You can pretty much fire somebody at your discretion. Who on earth cares what your reasons are? This whole thing was bogus from the start.

  6. Anonymous you wrote:

    "So what? You can pretty much fire somebody at your discretion. Who on earth cares what your reasons are? This whole thing was bogus from the start."

    But it's not a question as to whether anyone "cares" about what Gov. Palin does! It's a question about the legality of her actions.

    Just like any executive or manager, Sarah Palin is required to obey the laws of her state. And just like any employee, Wooten is entitled to whatever rights the law accords a state employee.

    If Palin or anyone else disagrees with the law, then they can work to change the law. But nobody is entitled to simply ignore the law.


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