Fired Police Commissioner Speaks About Gov. Palin

The right wing spin machine is agog over Gov. Sarah Palin's crusading role in ethics reform.

The Washington Post reports on a conversation its reporter had today with the fired Alaska Safety Commissioner I referenced earlier:

The July firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan by Gov. Sarah Palin, who was announced as John McCain's running mate on Friday, has unearthed a stream of soap-opera-like details about Palin, her husband, her family and top state appointees. The controversy has also cut against Palin's reputation for holding an ethical line and standing up to colleagues in the Republican Party over matters of principle.


Monegan, 57, a respected former chief of the Anchorage Police Department, said in an interview with The Washington Post's James V. Grimaldi on Friday that the governor repeatedly brought up the topic of her ex-brother-in-law, Michael Wooten, after Monegan became the state's commissioner of public safety in December 2006. Palin's husband, Todd, met with Monegan and presented a dossier of information about Wooten, who was going through a bitter custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly. Monegan also said Sarah Palin sent him e-mails on the subject, but Monegan declined to disclose them, saying he planned to give them to a legislative investigator looking into the matter.

Palin initially denied that she or anyone in her administration had ever pressured Monegan to fire the trooper, but this summer acknowledged more than a half a dozen contacts over the matter, including one phone call from a Palin administration official to a state police lieutenant. The call was recorded and was released by Palin's office this month.

The investigation into whether Palin's actions were improper is ongoing by the state legislature:

The allegation against Palin, "undercuts one of the points they are making that she is an ethical reformer," said Democratic state Sen. Hollis French, who is managing a $100,000 investigation into the firing of Walter Monegan.

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    I just listened to the guy (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by americanincanada on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:28:52 PM EST
    tell his story on MSNBC. He is clearly lying and has no solid proof, proof of any kind, of anything. Palin is fully open to the investigation and of all people you should know that people should not be smeared with something until it is proven they did it.

    I am shocked.

    Clearly Lying?. (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by CoralGables on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:41:12 PM EST
    The question is who is smearing who, and you just smeared the Alaska Safety Commissioner and a state trooper without even knowing it.

    Perhaps you should back off also.


    Yyou must have missed (none / 0) (#7)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:36:21 PM EST
    the opening words, that this is just quoting the right-wing blogs.  No agoggery here.

    Why is he clearly lying (none / 0) (#23)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:37:44 PM EST
    and why doesn't proof of innocence apply to him?

    I guess I wonder how much (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by frankly0 on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:30:54 PM EST
    traction this kind of accusation could ever get against Palin if the reports I've read about her ex brother-in-law are true, namely that he had been physically abusive to his family, and basically received a slap on the wrist as "punishment" by the authorities.

    Getting rid of such a trooper seems more like what a reformer would try to bring about rather than what they would try to ignore.

    Even if she ran afoul of laws and regulations in doing this, I'm wonder how much it will hurt her, when the whole picture is understood.

    It's hardly what one thinks about when one thinks about "abuse of power", is it?

    Recently this blog has (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by LatinoVoter on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:42:04 PM EST
    made some unfortunate turns just because the other side is a Republican. We saw Jeralyn trash Cindy McCain as having a "love affair" with prescription drugs and claiming she got a "sweetheart." That same Jeralyn had reiterated around the same time just what a raw deal Paris Hilton got.

    Now she's siding with what seems like boys in blue covering for each other and with an officer who tasered an 11 year old boy.

    This is unreal.


    Yeah (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by frankly0 on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:50:47 PM EST
    the tasering of the 11 boy -- which seems to be granted as true by the authorities involved -- is really hard to deal with as something that a reform minded Governor would rightly ignore in any case in a trooper.

    Yes, she may have violated some regulation or law perhaps -- but are we going to pillory her for doing so? Are we going to pretend to ourselves that this is what "abuse of power" is all about?

    Well, if those are the facts of the case, I'm sure not going to join in that chorus.


    Where do these shortcuts end? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:40:02 PM EST
    This just a technicality defense sounds a lot like Bush &  Torture, Bush & Gitmo and Bush & Fisa.

    I can't support your line of reasoning here.


    Mainly my point is (none / 0) (#48)
    by frankly0 on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 09:52:10 AM EST
    about the political implications of what Palin had done. I don't expect that it will result in much political blowback precisely because she was serving what most people will grant is a larger good, and actually correcting for abuses elsewhere in the system -- which reform minded politicians do.

    What I find a little disturbing is the outrage being expressed over her doing so, based purely on the most literal and rigid application of the law and regulations.

    Look, when these laws and regulations were put in force, I'm sure that what people had in mind was to stop "abuses of power" where some kind of venality comes into play, some twisting of the process to get a result that is patently biased and unjust. Who can pretend that this is such a case?

    The reality would appear to be that if another trooper had abused his position as a trooper and used a taser on an 11 year old boy in the midst of a custody dispute, and had received a slap on the wrist, then a reform minded governor might well have done everything she could to shake up the system and fired the commissioner who had allowed that to happen. Does anybody seriously dispute that fact? While usually such cases are so handled only when they achieve a certain notoriety, I suspect that an egregious act like the trooper's would have achieved that level of notoriety. I mean, tasering (using a tool intended strictly for police purposes) an 11 year old boy? Do you really imagine that there would not be a huge public outcry over such a story, independent of the connection to Palin? In another, less crazy time, I could imagine Jeralyn or TChris posting an outraged comment on the case, but on the opposite side.

    Now I don't know how the legalities of this might fall out. And I can see the argument that Palin should have restrained herself because of the appearance of "abuse of power" her actions would create. That is, even though she was herself correcting an egregious injustice, she should have restrained herself because it gave the appearance of introducing unfair bias. But in the end, and putting together the whole picture, it's hard to see why she wasn't mostly serving just ends, and it's especially hard to see how she's going to take a significant political hit over it.

    Unless, of course, there's a lot more to the story than I've read so far.


    Let me put the point this way (none / 0) (#49)
    by frankly0 on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 10:00:52 AM EST
    Suppose that Palin had had an infamous case come up in her administration in which a trooper unrelated to her used his taser on an 11 year old boy in a custody case, had been given a slap on the wrist, and Palin had simply sat back and not done a single thing, despite entreaties from the family and domestic violence groups, and had simply declared it was out of her hands.

    Well, I'll tell you what we would now be reading on all the "progressive" blogs, and quite possibly TalkLeft itself: how Palin doesn't care about victims of domestic violence, how Palin is just a fake when it comes to reform, how she could readily, as Governor, shaken up the system, but refused to do so.

    Does anybody doubt this?


    Some questions first. (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 11:22:33 AM EST
    1. Was the ex-brother in law ever prosecuted? If not, why not?  Tasering a child would be child abuse, even in the wilds of Alaska. A crime.
    2. Did Palin give her sister and her children shelter? If not, why not?
    3. If the ex-brother in law is guilty as charged (an I freely admit that I don't know), then appropriate responses IMO would be:
    a) Making sure your sister and children are safe
    b) turning over the evidence to the authorities to prosecute.
    c) If they don't prosecute, found out why.
    d) If he is adjudicated guilty seek his termination.

    Did she do a through , or just d w/o the adjudication of guilt?

    As far as I know she only did the latter. Which sounds a lot like Bush.

    Here is another factor. As mayor she fired the police chief for supporting her opponent. It was within her power, but that is not the hallmark of a "reform politician" (known as a good government politician aka a goo goo)  

    She allegedly opposed Stevens, but apparently that was after she used his support to get a elected. I would think a "goo goo" would have stayed away from Stevens. His corruption was not unknown.

    The bridge to nowhere. She was for it, before she was against it. I can't see any goo goo supporting the bridge to nowhere.

    BTW I am not opposed to reform, but I find most goo goos to be ineffective as politicians and therefore ineffective at getting any reform done.

    She left Wasilla with higher taxes for a sport arena she championed. I don't see that as a reform.

    In short, she has a record and she has some experience. And I don't see why we shouldn't talk about her experience. Because, in theory at least, she could become president. And is Bush league experience what  we want?


    Well, you know, my (none / 0) (#47)
    by frankly0 on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 09:32:53 AM EST
    guess is that if a state trooper had tasered an 11 year old boy, and had been given only a slap on the wrist, and that case had been made a rather famous case (as it might well have been, on its merits), then a reform minded Governor might well have stepped in and seen to it that something was done.

    Why do you really imagine that it would be otherwise? Wouldn't a case of tasering an 11 year boy, who is a family member, in the midst of a custody battle, not count as so egregious an abuse of a trooper's position that he should be fired?

    Please explain yourself, if you can.


    This is beside the point. (none / 0) (#54)
    by eustiscg on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 10:04:41 PM EST
    There are legal channels for such actions: courts, review boards, disciplinary processes.  She did not take full advantage of them.  Instead, she allegedly used her appointed powers as governor in attempt to bypass the due process of the law.

    If she wanted to bring pressure on the Commissioner to expedite such a process (once initiated) or to call for the trooper's full suspension until the charges were fully addressed, she could have done so by making a big and very public deal of it.  Instead, she allegedly used the back-channels of government to avoid the open and transparent (ab)use of power.

    If the allegations are true, this is the very definition of "abuse of power."

    My opinion?  A rookie's mistake, but a serious one.  She probably worried about how it would play in the press, regardless of what the trooper did, because it carried overtones of personal resentment.  So instead, she tried to hide her actions from the public eye.  As in most such cases, the coverup would be far more offensive, cosmetically and/or legally, than the act.  In light of the Bush Administration's excesses, the most damaging thing that could come out of this investigation would be any pattern of lying to or misleading the press.


    exactly (none / 0) (#33)
    by Chisoxy on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 10:55:07 PM EST
    I thought we couldnt accuse people of anything? What exactly is this post about if not to pass judgment without having the guts to come right out and say it.

    Innocent until proved guilty (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Redshoes on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:31:49 PM EST
    This too is a losing argument -- she may have had many reasons to fire him and I don't know what the rules in Alaska but many positions serve at the pleasure of the Governor in my state.

    Sure (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Steve M on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:45:22 PM EST
    and the US Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President, but the DOJ scandal was still a problem in my book.

    I'm just saying let's wait before (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Redshoes on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:31:24 PM EST
    condemning her.  I'm still on the No Way, No How, No McCain express I just think watching the last 10 hours that DS is catching.

    Did Gonzalez say, as Palin did (none / 0) (#36)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 11:01:33 PM EST
    "I welcome an investigation"?  And mean it, opening doors to records and agreeing to interviews, etc.?

    I think not.

    Let's find actual, useful parallels.


    I looked into it (none / 0) (#40)
    by Cream City on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 01:09:44 AM EST
    and the guy she fired was a commissioner, whom she appointed and has the power to fire at will.

    That's what I found.  What is your source for saying that the guy she fired was covered by union contract?  I'm just not finding that anywhere.


    Names should be mentioned to be clear (none / 0) (#43)
    by CoralGables on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 02:12:58 AM EST
    I don't think Hawaii was clear. The trooper was (and is) covered by a union contract. From what I gather he is still a state trooper because he was reprimanded for the problems in the past and there has been nothing new brought to the table. These aren't new accusations against the trooper, and they happened prior to Palin becoming Governor.

    I see the legal line of attack here.... (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Oje on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:32:09 PM EST
    But, how does she perhaps explain this:

    "I regret that Monegan felt pressured.... Police officers hold a sacred trust.... my brother-in-law broke that trust when he threatened/beat/[insert indefensible act here] my sister.... I did my duty.... it was merely an unfortunate accident that the victim was my sister.... I would have done the same thing for any Alaskan.... we all deserve equality of protection from abuses under the law...."

    This story appeals to something that many woman know and understand much more concretely than the legality of the Alaskan governor's constitutional requirements: domestic violence.  

    "The right-wing spin machine" (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:34:28 PM EST
    is always agog about something.  Good to start the post with that caution.  Of course, we'll see who goes right past it to join in the Drudgery.  How soon they forget Whitewatergate, etc. . . .

    But I can anticipate better of most on this blog, populated by lawyers, as it is.  They know that even Bush did not manage to entirely obliterate that we're all still innocent until proven guilty.  Even Republican VP nominees.

    Cream (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by RalphB on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:33:48 PM EST
    Please have another look up top.  I believe it says the right wing blogs are ahog because she's a reformer.  Then J proceeds to indict and convict her for "abuse of power".  If what I've read about the case is true, she should be congratulated instead.

    So I guess I needed (none / 0) (#37)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 11:02:44 PM EST
    the snark tag after all.  

    there goes... (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by kredwyn on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:43:41 PM EST
    innocent til proven guilty.

    "Troopergate" (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by kmw0382 on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:49:11 PM EST
    Hi All,

    I have been following this issue since it's inception around August 1st.   The original charges were made by an Andrew Halcro, who ran against Sarah Palin as an independent.  Apparently, some members of the Obama campaign in Alaska were also involved in pushing this story.

    My understanding of the bare facts is that Sarah Palin's sister, Molly, was married to State
    Trooper Wooten until their divorce in 2005.   During this time, Wooten engaged in some unsavoury behavior--those that have been supported by an internal state investigation include (1) he tasered his stepson with a state issued training taser, (2) he drove a state police vehicle while intoxicated.  The Palins' have made some other claims--notably that he has made threats against the governor and members of her family, although I don't know whether these have been independently verified.  While not necessarily relevant to the issue, Wooten has been married four times and I understand (although not verified) that he has nine children.

    The claim that Monegan is making is that he was pressured by Governor Palin to fire Wooten as some kind of retribution, and when he did not comply, Governor Palin fired him (actually, she offered him an alternate position, which he refused).  The investigation is whether her actions represent an abuse of powers.

    I believe Sarah Palin has turned over everything requested by the investigator appointed by the state legislature and is awaiting their findings.

    kmw0382 (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Gabriele Droz on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 10:59:36 PM EST
    Off Topic, but I thought I read a great post by you earlier about Alaska's demographics, the 2 borders, military bases, and layout of the state:  1 million lakes, 100,000 glaciers, different tribes, etc.

    I wish I had bookmarked it, but now I can't find it anywhere on this site.  Could you please either re-post it or email it to me privately at gabriele dot droz at gmail dot com?

    I would so appreciate it.  It was very informative.  I've never been to Alaska myself, but always want to learn more about it.


    Yes, I loved it too (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by hairspray on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 10:04:41 PM EST
    If you get it would you tack it on to me also? It was excellent.

    Correction (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by kmw0382 on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:57:42 PM EST
    Andrew Halco originally "broke" the story on his radio show/blog.

    Here in WA (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Manuel on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 10:06:45 PM EST
    there was the case of the police chief that murdered his wife and then shot hinself.  It turned that his domestic cnduct had long been overlooked by those in charge.  I don't know if Palin fired the safety comissioner for oversight failure but oversight of the domestic conduct of officers is a legitimate issue.

    If this is the case (none / 0) (#29)
    by CoralGables on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 10:15:54 PM EST
    there should be no reason for Palin to cite executive privilege to keep the emails on the subject private. She clearly let family issues interfere with her job. My guess is much of this never would have come to light except the person named to replace the safety commissioner has already had to resign due to sexual harassment allegations while at his previous job. It appears she fired for a poor reason, and hired far worse.

    Olberman is doing his best (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by americanincanada on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 10:10:19 PM EST
    to hand the election to McCain.

    There's just so little that's good about this pick (none / 0) (#2)
    by Siguy on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:29:33 PM EST
    She fires up evangelicals and she adds energy to a boring campaign, but ... I mean really, this is a scandal that's directly tied to her that's going on as we speak.

    This scandal is not old or over by a long shot, it's an on going investigation that's supposed to release its results in November!

    This is the woman that's going to turn McCain's campaign around and ignite a "reform and change" movement? My lord, her governorship is younger than McCain's campaign.

    Bu bu bu but..... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Key on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:00:50 PM EST
    She's said she had no contact, and none of the people had any contact, with Monegan over firing the cop in question.  They all insisted they had never discussed it.

    Then a phone recording comes out that demonstrates their denials were untrue, and Palin had to back track a bit, saying that there was contact, but not by her and not with her knowledge or approval.

    Now there is a statement by Monegan that he has emails from Palin herself on the matter.  And what if that dossier from Palin's husband is still around?  Fingerprints could reveal who has been in possession of those documents.

    In a nutshell, the issue from my POV is that Palin doesn't look like a very honest person.  At worst, more information will come out proving her to have directly and deliberately lied.  At best, she's going to look like someone who is naive and foolish.

    links? (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by kredwyn on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:02:33 PM EST
    Here's the problem (none / 0) (#20)
    by CoralGables on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:29:44 PM EST
    The emails aren't available from the governor's office on this issue as Palin is claiming executive privilege. (which is supported by the Alaskan Supreme Court thus far)



    The commissioner she fired (none / 0) (#41)
    by Cream City on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 01:11:50 AM EST
    says he has the emails, according to the post above.  So why doesn't he produce them, then?  

    Cream (none / 0) (#42)
    by CoralGables on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 02:05:01 AM EST
    I believe he said he would give them to the state investigators. I'm assuming he is legally able to do so. Palin claiming executive privilege over the emails makes it legally complicated perhaps.

    Still looks to me like a family court case run amok among some family members with a vendetta. Certainly not uncommon in most walks of life, just touchy when it involves a politician's family. Even the judge in the case suggested they were going after the ex-husbands livelihood.

    Anyone that has spent time in family court can probably recognize the players and see some familiarity. Family Court is known to bring out the worst in the best of people.


    if the cop were abusive to his family (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by kredwyn on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 07:31:01 AM EST
    and drove drunk in his cruiser (both of which are illegal), I'd go after his livelihood too.

    All that aside, I ask again (none / 0) (#51)
    by Cream City on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 11:46:54 AM EST
    why he hasn't done so.

    Did you see him on tv?  I did.  I don't trust him.


    I did not (none / 0) (#52)
    by CoralGables on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 12:44:13 PM EST
    I didn't see him on television but the emails exist as Palin has admitted they exist and were cc'd to her husband who it appears was the point man. If with her knowledge or not, I have no clue. She claims to have had no knowledge of events at the time short of the one phone call released and her one conversation which she admitted to after her early denials. Has the Alaska Legislative investigation even begun as of yet?

    I'll stand by my opinion that family court brings out the worst in good people. Looking back I suspect all parties will see their childishness. Child custody cases will do that to people.


    THIS is why Obama might lose (4.00 / 3) (#18)
    by justonevoice on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:07:24 PM EST
    Character assasinations or attempts thereof will backfire:

    How many houses does McCain have?
    None of them were financed by Rezko!

    How much experience does Palin have?
    How much does Obama have?

    Palin and her sister are being investigated!
    One of Obama's closet business associates was INDICTED!

    Palin's courting the evangelicals!
    Obama...Trinity United Church!

    THERE are NO winners in this crap!!!!!!


    A quote from/about how Palin feels (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by americanincanada on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:16:03 PM EST
    when church and state issues are used against her from the Anchorage Daily News:

    Palin and her staff complained that efforts to raise these issues in public were divisive and hypothetical. The normally unflappable candidate seemed put-upon when she faced a string of such questions in the last debate, on public television and radio Thursday night....

    Palin said her reading of the Bible would not "bleed over into policy." But she has based much of her campaign around a close fundamentalist reading of another text - the state constitution - which she cited in nearly every debate as the source of her guiding principles.


    Watch what you say (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by chopper on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 10:34:55 PM EST
    Obama people should not bring up the issue of no experience because Gov. Palin has more experience than Obama.

    How do you figure? (none / 0) (#56)
    by eustiscg on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 10:14:49 PM EST
    When McCain started running for president this time around, Palin was still the mayor of a town of slightly over 8000 people.  At that point, Obama had already held state-wide office for 7 years and national office for 3 years.  So I guess I'm confused how you would back up your assertion ...

    troopergate - Frontier justice? (none / 0) (#24)
    by DFLer on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:38:51 PM EST
    Well Glenn Beck LOVES Gov. Palin. 'Nuff said.

    (he just rebroadcast a June interview with her on CNN Headline)

    gee, what's the problem? (none / 0) (#39)
    by cpinva on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 11:19:53 PM EST
    she admitted to having had illegal communications with the state commissioner of public safety, regarding her brother-in-law. clearly, this is a conflict of interest, period.

    she's either too stupid to know that, or knew it and didn't care. either way, do you really want her in the veep's seat? haven't we already had 8 years of that king of thinking?

    whatever her brother-in-law is accused of is irrelevant. actually, i should think getting him fired would make it even worse for her sister, since he'd probably figure out who was ultimately responsible.

    my god, she sounds dumber by the minute!

    Appearance is Everything (none / 0) (#55)
    by John in MN on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 10:14:21 PM EST
    For better or worse, the mere fact that $100K is being spent on this investigation is enough for the American public to pronounce her guilty. And I say, good riddance.

    She was chosen for the sake of appearance. She's a young, gun-toting, pro-life woman. McCain is a dirty old man who likes beauty queens.

    Her appearance got her the VP, her alleged unethical conduct is enough to bring her down - just by the appearance of unethical behavior.

    Questions: (none / 0) (#57)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 05:56:21 AM EST
    As I understand it, Monegan feels he was fired because he wouldn't fire Wooten.  He wasn't explicitly asked to fire him, but got the impression that is what the governor wanted.

    QUESTION:  Would this in all instances be considered an abuse of power?  

    Although I cannot find any direct information on why Palin claims she fired Monegan.  It seems that her adovcates are claiming that her and her husband's contacts with Monegan in regards to Wooten were because they felt Wooten posed a threat to the governor's safety.  Even Monegan admits some of them were in connection with this issue.

    QUESTION:  Could Monegan's failure to take these threats seriously be seen as a credible reason to fire him?

    Also, it seems that Monegan may not have been fired, but rather asked to move to another position which he rejected.

    QUESTION:  Does the fact that he may not have been fired, per se, have any bearing on the abuse of power issue?