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  1. #1
    TXCharlie's Avatar
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    Alaska Probe Says Palin Abused Her Authority

    This is such B.S... The report sounds like the investigator was just pissed that Palin and her sister refused to cooperate with his investigation.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1223...gn2008_mostpop

    Vice-Presidential Nominee's Camp Says Governor Acted Properly and Is 'Vindicated' by Report Examining Firing of Official

    A long-awaited Alaska legislative report concluded that Republican Sen. John McCain's vice-presidential running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, abused her authority and broke state ethics law by trying to remove her former brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper.

    But the report also concluded that the Republican governor did not unlawfully fire her public-safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, who said he had been pressured to oust the trooper, Mike Wooten. The report said other factors were involved in Mr. Monegan's controversial dismissal.


    Getty Images: Sen. John McCain speaks as Republican
    vice-presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
    listens during a town hall meeting in Waukesha, Wisconsin.


    The report, by investigator Stephen Branchflower, was a potential setback to Sen. McCain's lagging presidential campaign. It was released late Friday in Anchorage by the state legislative panel that commissioned it. The bipartisan panel, with two members absent, voted 12-0 to release the findings to the public.

    A spokesman for the panel said it would probably have to wait until the Alaska legislature reconvenes in January before deciding whether to take further action.

    Gov. Palin's spokesman issued a statement saying the investigation "vindicated the governor by finding that she acted within her constitutional authority to remove 'at-will' employees," referring to her commissioner. He added that the findings of ethics-law violations "required speculation and assumptions" that "could not be supported solely on the basis of the evidence."

    The McCain campaign issued a statement that said the report "illustrates what we've known all along: this was a partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters." The statement added: "Lacking evidence to support the original Monegan allegation, the Legislative Council seriously overreached, making a tortured argument to find fault without basis in law or fact."

    Mr. Branchflower, who based his report on interviews, emails and other records, said Gov. Palin violated Alaska's Ethics Act. The statute is meant to "discourage executive branch employees from acting under personal interests in the performance of their public responsibilities," he said.

    The governor engaged in "official action" by her inaction "if not her active participation" in assisting her husband, Todd, to get Trooper Wooten fired, the investigator said. Mr. Palin gave testimony to the investigator that he repeatedly tried to get the trooper removed, as a threat to the public as well as his family.

    Mr. Branchflower's report pointed out that Gov. Palin had declined to be interviewed. "An interview would have assisted everyone to better understand her motives...," he said.

    Read the Report

    More

    "We are trying to find if there was any misuse of power or any laws broken," David Guttenberg, a Democratic representative, said after he and the other panel members huddled behind closed doors for more than six hours to review the report. "Hopefully, this report will help."

    It wasn't immediately clear what penalties the governor could face. Wevley Shea, a former U.S. prosecutor who has served as an ethics adviser to Gov. Palin said one possible penalty under the statute could be censure by the legislature.

    Release of the report, which runs to some 1,300 pages, follows a difficult stretch for the McCain-Palin ticket, when their Democratic rivals, Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden, widened their lead in public-opinion polls, both nationally and in many battleground states. The report's accusations of ethical violations by Gov. Palin could also undermine a core message that Republicans have raised against Sen. Obama in recent days: that he has ethical problems because he is connected to the "Chicago machine" of corrupt politicians and donors.

    The trooper saga began in 2005, before Sarah Palin was elected Alaska's first woman governor in 2006. Her sister, Molly McCann, was going through a divorce with Mr. Wooten and obtained a domestic-violence protective order in 2005 that triggered an investigation by the Alaska State Troopers into Mr. Wooten's conduct.

    The trooper scandal took on major national importance after Gov. Palin was named as Sen. McCain's running mate in late August. The governor subsequently backed off an earlier pledge to cooperate with the legislative probe, instead hiring an attorney who sought to move the case to the jurisdiction of a state personnel board under her control. A showdown loomed when the governor's office said at first it would not comply with legislative subpoenas in the case.

    After many Democrats -- as well as some of the governor's own supporters -- criticized the stance, her husband and others named in the subpoenas agreed to comply with them.

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  2. #2
    TXCharlie's Avatar
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    The purpose of those ethics rules are to prevent politicians from firing good state employees and replacing them with political cronies - That doesn't apply in this case, and no one is even alleging that Palin tried to do that!

    How could anyone think that she didn't have a right to demand that a trooper be fired if he threatened her sister and father, as well as Tasering an 11-year-old boy because the boy asked him too? It seems to me like she went through proper channels for that - and the attempt was unsuccessful - It isn't like she called the trooper in her office and tried to fire him herself.


    The report also states that she had many reasons for firing the commissioner - There were lots of reasons for that, apparently, and she has a perfect right to replace him with a commissioner who she can work with. It would be naive to think that his refusal to fire the trooper didn't enter into her decision, but there was no conclusion that was improper because she had other more important reasons.

    Also, although I didn't read the entire official report, just the summaries, I'm not so sure that the investigator showed any personal benefit that she would have derived from firing the trooper, which he is apparently required to show according to the language of the ethics rule. Again the rule is to prevent cronyism and personal gain.

    It pisses me off most of all not because this ethics rule is being misused as a political tool, which I think it is (she has both Republican and Democrat enemies in the state legislature), but that this will also tie future governor's hands from doing what they believe is right, in the name of "appearance of impropriety", even if no impropriety actually exists.

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  3. #3
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    I think the main issue the panel had was the access she gave to her husband in contacting various officials involved in the case. She didn't put a stop to it, and was also found to have intruded in the Trooper's IA process in an inappropriate manner.

    Getting your own way counts as a personal benefit, and the Civil Service code is to avoid the appearance of wrong doing, not just wrong doing. You cannot take advantage of your office to achieve goals that would normally be outside the scope of your official duties.

    Whatever the charges against the trooper, they were fully investigated, and he was not dismissed. By all accounts, the divorce and custody battle was bitter and rancorous. We've only heard one side of the story.
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    TXCharlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDawg View Post
    Getting your own way counts as a personal benefit, and the Civil Service code is to avoid the appearance of wrong doing, not just wrong doing. You cannot take advantage of your office to achieve goals that would normally be outside the scope of your official duties.
    So let me get this right: If any governor or other person of influence has first-hand knowledge that a state employee is misappropriating money, for example, and that person happens to have previously campaigned against her.

    Are you suggesting that she should neither report the crime, nor insist that the employee should be investigated throughly, charged criminally, and fired if there is cause to believe that he stole money, just because he was once a political opponent?

    Now exchange the relitively minor crime of theft for assault by threat, telephone harassment, and child abuse.

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    She and her husband both called the Commander of the post, after the investigation into her brother-in-law was completed. Her husband made contact with 16 different state employees on multiple occasions.

    She was not filing a criminal complaint as a citizen, she was using the influence of her office.

    Sorry, once you take public office, you no longer get to indulge in very human, sometimes petty, family conflicts.
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  6. #6
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    The report said other factors were involved in Mr. Monegan's controversial dismissal.
    I realize that some of the pertinent details may not be allowed to be released due to personnel issues, however, funny that there's been nothing at all mentioned as to what the "other factors" were. It's just soooo typical of the media...
    The true measure of your character is what you choose to do when you think no one is looking.

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDawg View Post
    Getting your own way counts as a personal benefit, and the Civil Service code is to avoid the appearance of wrong doing, not just wrong doing. You cannot take advantage of your office to achieve goals that would normally be outside the scope of your official duties.

    Actually, that is not at all what the Alaska law in question says.

    I got curious, because Alaska law is almost identical to Washington.

    Getting your own way isn't in the definition. Even the article pointed out the dipshit commissioner was fired because he went behind the Governor's back - completely lawful.

    Anyhow, just a thought - might look into the law first before venturing a statement as if it is factual.

    39.52.120 is the cite, if you are curious. The key words are found in the definitions chapter, just like Washington. The key word for personal interest is "pecuniary."

    Pecuniary is a funny word that every police officer learns in the academy.

    Scope it out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adroitcuffs View Post
    I realize that some of the pertinent details may not be allowed to be released due to personnel issues, however, funny that there's been nothing at all mentioned as to what the "other factors" were. It's just soooo typical of the media...
    Actually, it has been heavily reported.

    The commissioner was insubordinate, going behind the Governor's back on budget issues.
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  9. #9
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDawg View Post
    She and her husband both called the Commander of the post, after the investigation into her brother-in-law was completed. Her husband made contact with 16 different state employees on multiple occasions.

    She was not filing a criminal complaint as a citizen, she was using the influence of her office.

    Sorry, once you take public office, you no longer get to indulge in very human, sometimes petty, family conflicts.

    She made a criminal complaint before she was Governor.
    I'm your huckleberry...

    Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentus telum est!

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    I was looking for a saint who was a devil of a lover,
    but every girl I found was either one way or the other...



  10. #10
    adroitcuffs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    Actually, it has been heavily reported.

    The commissioner was insubordinate, going behind the Governor's back on budget issues.
    Hmmm, then I stand corrected. Perhaps it is just the fact that I've been stuck in the Land of Fruits & Nuts for the past two months straight which has caused me to miss the more detailed news statements.
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  11. #11
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    This is such B.S... The report sounds like the investigator was just pissed that Palin and her sister refused to cooperate with his investigation.



    I could give a rats ass about the "abuse of power". Search abuse of power or corruption in Louisiana and you'll see why. We define it.
    My only comment is look a little past your personal feelings on the politics to the actual investigation. When you have a few under your belt you'll understand. When someone in power gives you that well known condescending smirk and tells you to get bent you'll be pissed too. That old boy had a job to do and prissy people who have position and know they can get away with it may have shut him down. That's no way to get to the truth.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    Actually, that is not at all what the Alaska law in question says.

    I got curious, because Alaska law is almost identical to Washington.

    Getting your own way isn't in the definition. Even the article pointed out the dipshit commissioner was fired because he went behind the Governor's back - completely lawful.

    Anyhow, just a thought - might look into the law first before venturing a statement as if it is factual.

    39.52.120 is the cite, if you are curious. The key words are found in the definitions chapter, just like Washington. The key word for personal interest is "pecuniary."

    Pecuniary is a funny word that every police officer learns in the academy.

    Scope it out.
    I think the report clearly states that the firing of the commissioner was not in question, his position was "at will" and he could be fired at any time. The "official" reason would seem to be budgetary in nature.

    The findings of "abuse of power" were related to the Gov and her husband having inappropriate contact with state employees, and the Gov not stepping in and putting a stop to her husband's contacts with those employees.

    She made a rookie mistake, and if she had any character she would just admit it.....credibility starts with accountability.
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  13. #13
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDawg View Post
    I think the report clearly states that the firing of the commissioner was not in question, his position was "at will" and he could be fired at any time. The "official" reason would seem to be budgetary in nature.

    The findings of "abuse of power" were related to the Gov and her husband having inappropriate contact with state employees, and the Gov not stepping in and putting a stop to her husband's contacts with those employees.

    She made a rookie mistake, and if she had any character she would just admit it.....credibility starts with accountability.

    If she did what she is accused of the way you frame it, she allowed her husband to try and get rid of a tarnished badge who threatened her family.

    Not going to get a lot of sympathy from most law enforcement folks on that one.

    That, and you can't hit her for something her husband did. She's elected, he aint.

    The only rookie mistake she made is not documenting her reasons - or as you put it the "official reason," which you put in quotes.

    She runs for Governor to get rid of dirt - she finds dirt - and she gets rid of it. She was supposed to ignore the dirty Trooper who derived his authority from her own office?

    Once again, not going to get a lot of sympathy from law enforcement folks for that guy.
    I'm your huckleberry...

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