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12-07-08, 01:19 PM #1
Access denied to Palin's testimony TROOPERGATE: Governor's office says report was to be made public, not deposition.
As far as Gov. Sarah Palin is concerned, Troopergate is behind her and she won't release to the public testimony she gave in an investigation into whether she violated ethics laws in firing her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan.
But the day she testified, Palin's attorney said she wanted to make her testimony public.
She gave her only testimony in the matter on Oct. 24 while on the vice presidential campaign trail. Her attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said at the time that she wanted to release a transcript of her sworn testimony.
Reached this week, Van Flein said he hadn't talked to Palin about releasing it since then. "That's their call, I guess," he said.
The governor has maintained she did nothing wrong and that Monegan was dismissed for reasons unrelated to her concerns about her ex-brother-in-law, trooper Michael Wooten.
She called Wooten a "trooper time-bomb" and complained to Monegan in an e-mail that Wooten had tasered his stepson, drank beer in his patrol car, and shot a moose without a permit and yet was still on the street.
Palin's husband, Todd, as well as administration officials, repeatedly talked to Monegan and others at the Department of Public Safety about Wooten. Monegan has said he believes he was fired in part because he wouldn't get rid of the trooper, and one investigation into the matter came to the same conclusion.
Palin cooperated with only one of two investigations into the circumstances of Monegan's dismissal, the one by the state Personnel Board, which she said was the proper venue for an ethics investigation and which cleared her. She didn't cooperate with the separate investigation by the state Legislature, which found she abused her power by failing to rein in Todd Palin and others but still had the right to fire Monegan.
When the Personnel Board investigation began, Palin said she wanted it made public.
"The people of Alaska -- and of the nation -- deserve to have a decision from the proper tribunal putting their minds at ease that suggestions of misconduct that have circulated on the Internet and in some media outlets are not true. I therefore am waiving the confidentiality that usually covers personnel board complaints," Palin said in a statement released by Van Flein on Sept. 2, just days after she was named John McCain's running mate.
Palin is simply ready to move on, her deputy press secretary, Sharon Leighow, wrote in an e-mail exchange this week.
"Governor Palin waived her confidentiality to release the Personnel Board report -- not her deposition," Leighow wrote. "Two investigations concerning this matter have been conducted and concluded; we are not going to relitigate this in the media now. The politics are over and behind us. In both investigations, the investigators found that the governor acted with her proper and lawful authority in dismissing Walt Monegan. We are moving forward now and not looking back at a matter which has distracted Alaskans from the key issues at hand; the price of oil, the state of our budget and resource development in Alaska, including the ultimate construction of a natural gas pipeline."
The governor's office also refused to release a transcript of Todd Palin's deposition and other key documents that were part of the Personnel Board investigation but not included as attachments to the official report.
For instance, the governor's office wouldn't provide copies of e-mails among top administration officials, the governor and her husband that were sent in the days before an infamous call by Palin aide Frank Bailey to a trooper lieutenant about Wooten. In the call, which was recorded, Bailey said, "Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads. You know, why on earth hasn't, why is this guy still representing the department?" Palin has said she never authorized the call. The e-mails are not public because of reasons including "executive privilege," the governor's office said.
The governor's office also declined to release notes from a meeting of Palin administration officials assessing Wooten's ability to return to work after being off on a worker's compensation claim.
The Personnel Board investigation, by prosecutor-turned-defense lawyer Tim Petumenos, said the notes could be read to mean that officials talked about the possibility of assigning Wooten to duties "that would cause him to resign."
The notes are exempt from the state public records law because they relate to a confidential personnel matter, the governor's office said.
As to the governor's testimony, Leighow said: "This matter is closed. We see no public purpose in artificially prolonging this controversy."
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