Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Palin cleared in Troopergate investigation

"A new report just released — hours before the polls open on Election Day — exonerates Gov. Sarah Palin in the Troopergate controversy.

The state Personnel Board-sanctioned investigation is the second into whether Palin violated state ethics law in firing her public safety commissioner, and it contradicts the earlier findings by a special counsel hired by the state Legislature.

Both investigations found that Palin was within her rights to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

But the new report says the Legislature’s investigator was wrong to conclude that Palin abused her power by allowing aides and her husband, Todd, to pressure Monegan and others to dismiss her ex-brother-in-law, Trooper Mike Wooten. Palin was accused of firing Monegan after Wooten stayed on the job.

The Palins have argued that Wooten was a loose cannon who had tasered his stepson, drank beer in his patrol car, and threatened Palin’s father, and that their complaints that he shouldn’t be on the force were justified.

The Troopergate matter became sharply politicized after Palin was announced as Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate in Tuesday’s election.

The report, released at a Monday afternoon press conference at the Hotel Captain Cook, presents the findings and recommendations of Anchorage lawyer Timothy Petumenos, hired as independent counsel for the Personnel Board to examine several complaints against Palin.

Petumenos wrote the Legislature’s special counsel, former state prosecutor Steve Branchflower, used the wrong state law as the basis for his conclusions and also misconstrued the evidence."

from: http://scottthong.wordpress.com/

by Rachel D'Oro - Associated Press Writer - 11/4/2008 7:30:00 AM

"ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Gov. Sarah Palin violated no ethics laws when she fired her public safety commissioner, the state personnel board concluded in a report released Monday. "There is no probable cause to believe that the governor, or any other state official, violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act in connection with these matters," the report says.

"Gov. Palin is pleased that the independent investigator for the Personnel Board has concluded that she acted properly in the reassignment of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan," her attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said in a statement. (View video report)

An earlier, separate investigation by the Legislature found that Palin had abused her office.

Monegan said he felt pressure from Palin, her husband and her staff to fire a state trooper who had gone through a nasty divorce from Palin's sister. Palin denied the claim, and said Monegan was fired last July because she wanted the department to head in a new direction.

Monegan told The Associated Press on Monday that he was "perplexed and disappointed" by the report. It was prepared by Timothy Petumenos, an independent investigator for the Alaska Personnel Board.

A separate legislative investigation recently concluded that Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, abused her office by allowing her husband and staffers to pressure Monegan to fire the trooper. However, it upheld the firing because Monegan was an at-will employee.

Alaska Personnel Board investigations are normally secret, but the three-member board decided to release this report, citing public interest in the matter given Palin's status as a candidate for national office. Election Day is Tuesday.

Palin had earlier waived her privacy rights, but others in her administration did not and Petumenos sought to keep the matter from playing out in the media.

Documents released Monday did not include transcripts of separate depositions given by Palin and her husband, Todd.

That deposition was the only one given by Sarah Palin. She was not subpoenaed to answer questions in the Legislature's investigation, though her husband, Todd, gave an affidavit in that probe.

Petumenos said that during her deposition given under oath, Sarah Palin denied Monegan's claim -- also given under oath -- that she had two conversations with him about the trooper.

"Both of those conversations were denied in their entirety by the governor," Petumenos said."

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