Document Contradicts Palin's Latest TrooperGate Claim

When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin filed her request earlier this week to stop the Personnel Board investigation into TrooperGate that her lawyer had requested just days earlier, she included a new reason for firing former Public Safety Director Walt Monaghan: He was a renegade who took an unauthorized trip to Washington, DC to lobby for money for a program to investigate and prosecute rape.

The project, expected to cost from $10 million to $20 million a year for five years, would have been the first of its kind in Alaska, which leads the nation in reported forcible rape.

The McCain-Palin campaign echoed the charge in a press release it distributed Monday, concurrent with Palin's legal filing. "Mr. Monegan persisted in planning to make the unauthorized lobbying trip to D.C.," the release stated.

But, ABC News has obtained the travel authorization document (pdf). The trip was authorized by Palin's office. [More...]

Palin's aide Randy Ruaro now gives this explanation:

According to Ruaro, Monegan asked for -- and received -- approval for the travel without telling Palin's staff his reason for going. "As a matter of routine, the travel was approved by Mike Nizich ... weeks before the actual purpose was made clear by former Commissioner Monegan," Ruaro wrote.

Of course, Nizich is one of the aides subpoenaed for the legislative investigation being conducted by independent proseuctor Stephen Branchflower and he is among the group of subpoenaed witnesses the Alaska Attorney General has since told Branchflower would not be appearing.

ABC asked Monaghan about the travel form.

Contacted Friday, Monegan confirmed the travel authorization was to pursue funding for the anti-sexual-violence program. He said the travel authorization form was completed in a fashion consistent with practice, even though it showed no expenditures. The signed form approved the travel, he said, and authorized him to use a government credit card or seek reimbursement for expenses he incurred during the trip.

Another day, another phony story from Palin and her new lawyer, the former NY federal terrorsm prosecutor hired by the McCain Campaign.

Marcy has more, and some background.

Marcy also writes that one of the subpeonaed witnesses from outside Palin's office did show. Via Andrew Halco, the former Republican legislator who has been chronicling TrooperGate and other Palin events, reports:

[Senator]French said that John Bitney, Palin's former legislative liason, had already appeared and given a deposition to Branchflower and another person subpoenaed, Murlene Wilkes, an owner of a workers compensation claim adjustment firm that was allegedly pressured by the governor's office, agreed to show up today with her attorney.

Wilkes could be significant because one of the allegations against Palin is that she gained unauthorized access to Trooper Mike Wooten's workman's claim file and then ratted him out with information it contained because he had gone snowmobiling. She did this through another aide named Frank Bailey. There's a 24 minute tape recording investigators have of Bailey calling State Trooper Lt. Rodney Dial, trying to get Wooten fired, which he says is being made at the request of the Governor, and in which, he discusses Wooten's medical records.

Less than a week after Frank Bailey was outed after making a recorded phone call where he tried to get the governor's ex-brother in law fired, disclosed confidential health information and portrayed that the call was at the behest of the governor, Bailey received the harshest punishment Governor Sarah Palin could apparently dish out; a paid vacation.

Late Tuesday, the governor's office sent out an email that said "Frank Bailey has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the Branchflower investigation." According to Kyle Hopkins at the Anchorage Daily News, Bailey is on paid leave and is eligible to continue collecting his $78,528 salary.

Palin has said Bailey's call was a surprise to her and she just learned about it recently.

As a result of the call, Hacro writes:

First, Bailey's request to Dial to act as a mole in forwarding communications sent to PSEA members seriously encroaches on fair labor practices rules. The PSEA union is already reviewing their legal options.

Second, Bailey's discussion of Palin's ex brother in laws medical files are a serious violation of an employees privacy rights and HIPAA laws which are strictly enforced to protect the privacy of employees.

Third, Bailey's attempts to get Palin's brother in law, fired even though the complaints he mentioned had already been ajudicated, violated Wooten's employee rights.

All three of these instances has not only provided serious legal exposure for the state and Frank Bailey, but has ironically given Palin's ex brother in law grounds to sue the state for violating his rights.

There's a timeline for all this:

Senator Lyman Hoffman's birthday was on Februrary 13, when Monegan said he was walking with Palin and told her she shouldn't be involved after she mentioned Wooten's name.

On the afternon of Februrary 28, Todd Palin makes three calls to Ivy Frye.

On the evening of February 28, Frye begins a flurry of emails to Annette Krietzer, Todd Palin, Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey and Kris Perry regarding PSEA.

On the morning of Februrary 29, Frank Bailey calls Trooper Lt. Rodney Dial and spends 24 minutes with him on the phone attempting to convince him that Wooten needs to be fired.

Directly after the phone call on the morning of February 29, Bailey emails Frye and writes that Dial is just a Lt. and will pass the information on up the chain of command.

So, where does Murlene Wilkes fit in? Again, via Marcy and USA Today:

Branchflower said he needed subpoenas to interview several Palin aides who had been in meetings about the matter. And in one case, he said, he needed to compel the interview of a state contractor whom he said may have lied to him.

Murlene Wilkes owns Harbor Adjusting Services in Anchorage, which has a contract with the state to process workers' compensation claims, Branchflower said. She told him the governor's office did not pressure her to deny a claim for Wooten, he said. But in August, one of her employees called a tip line and claimed there indeed was such pressure, Branchflower said.

"I remember at some point in the conversation she had mentioned or said something to the effect that either the governor or the governor's office wanted this claim denied," Branchflower quoted the tipster as saying. "I don't care if it's the president who wants this claim denied, I'm not going to deny it unless I have the medical evidence to do that."

Wilkes may have had a financial incentive to cover up, Branchflower said. Wilkes did not respond to a voicemail left at her office Friday afternoon.

Marcy adds:

Bailey mentioned "funny business" about a workers comp claim Wooten had submitted--basically that days after Wooten submitted the workers comp claim, he was caught on a snowmobile. Bailey also suggests that Wooten may have hid a pre-existing injury on his Trooper application.

It sounds like someone from the Governor's office called the workers comp contractor, Murlene Wilkes, gave her this information, and pushed her to deny the coverage on that basis. Wilkes refused to deny the claim. But when Wilkes spoke with Branchflower, she said the Governor's office had not pressured her. [Update: Andrew Halcro has some on this.]

The "more" according to Halcro:

Officer Wooten had a workers comp claim on a back injury that went through Harbor Adjustors (Murlene Wilkes). Skinny is that the Gov's office advised his claim should be denied.

Gave the claim office photos of the officer on a snowmachine (undated/Palin-family taken shots)

HA handed it over to legal to handle (Murlene didn't want to get in the middle of what was obviously something personal, and as her only source of income is with a vindictive State gov contract, doesn't want to come out on this issue).

End of day, Wooden got pennies on the dollar for his claim, they wouldn't even pick up for the chiropractor.

And, according to Marcy,

Branchflower says, "Wilkes may have had a financial incentive to cover up." Sure, it may just be that Wilkes didn't want to lose the contract with the state, and so didn't admit the pressure to Branchflower. Branchflower may just mean that Wilkes decided, on her own, not to piss off Sarah Palin.

But it sure makes you wonder whether someone made the threat of losing the contract explicit.

Oh, the tangled webs we weave when first we practice to decieve.

I'm wondering what Wilkes told Branchflower today.

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  • Display: Sort:
    This is a blog (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by pluege on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 07:00:09 AM EST
    By definition, the writer writes what is PERSONALLY on their minds.

    Reading a blog, any blog is completely OPTIONAL.

    Bottomline on troopergate (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by Exeter on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 08:15:14 AM EST
    1. Palin could fire Monegan, a political appointee, for any reason or no reason-- just as every governor across America does every day.
    2. I'm all for roughing up Palin on the right issues, but this is politically not a great storyline for Dems.

    she could fire him for any reason (5.00 / 0) (#55)
    by txpublicdefender on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 12:57:06 PM EST
    This argument that she could fire him for any reason she wanted therefore this is not an issue is just completely nonsensical to me.  The fact that she may have the power to fire him for any reason she wants does not mean that it is not relevant to her fitness for public office if she fires that person for his refusal to break the law.  Someone can have the power to do something and still abuse that power, and that abuse of power is relevant.  If the whole issue was meaningless merely because she had the power to fire him for any reason she wanted than why would a huge majority of the legislature have authorized an investigation in the first place?

    Oh, and there's the other issue regarding the fact that both she, and now the McCain campaign, have shown how they will respond to investigations into possible misconduct: lie, obstruct, and order others to break the law in order to delay and obstruct.

    These things are all relevant in assessing her fitness for public office.  


    Bush could fire US Attorneys (none / 0) (#52)
    by Socraticsilence on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 12:31:26 PM EST
    Seriously, Bush could fire US Attorneys at anytime and yet it was an issue as well.

    Being able to fire someone for no reason (none / 0) (#54)
    by Knocienz on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 12:53:36 PM EST
    Is not the same as being able to fire them for ANY reason.

    I would expect that firing someone for refusing to break the law (or regulations) is off limits.

    As for (2), it's the coverup and secrecy aspect. The resonance between Gov Palin and Bush/Cheney is rather powerful. Neither thinks that the law applies to them.


    Since When Is Ethics Not Relevant? (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by john horse on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 08:45:59 AM EST
    Palin is under investigation for abuse of power.  As TL's post demonstrates today, Palin's story of what happened just doesn't hold up.
    She promised to cooperate with the bipartisan committee investigating her alleged abuse of power.  She is now refusing to cooperate with the investigation.  

    Palin's stonewalling of this investigation is similar to the way that the Bush administration has handled investigations.  Shouldn't all public officials be held accountable?

    Why should we trust Palin?

    McCain is facillitating (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by themomcat on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 08:50:06 AM EST
    Palin by providing lawyers and, what I believe is, some very bad advice.

    ya (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by connecticut yankee on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 09:54:15 AM EST
    Yeah, the report is coming anyway and all theyve accomplished is to look scared.  She should have embraced it, smiled her way through the final report, given a quick "oops. sorry" and moved on.

    When people read this story they can easily see Gonzales and Goodling type antics.  I see a magical vision of Palin in front of congreess saying, "I cant recall" about 4000 times.


    Hollis French lost all credibility ... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Inky on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 09:01:29 AM EST
    when he gleefully promised that he had "an October surprise" in store at the end of his investigation. It became clear then and there that the "bipartisan investigation" had become a highly partisan witch hunt.

    Let's Be Clear (3.00 / 2) (#25)
    by MTSINAIMAMA on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:06:19 AM EST
    French saying that there might be an "October surprise" is hardly the start of a partisan witch hunt. The Republican controlled legislature UNANIMOUSLY voted for the investigation, months before Palin became a national figure. It only became a partisan affair BY THE MCCAIN OPERATIVES. when Palin was nominated.  

    Please ... (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Inky on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 12:13:42 PM EST
    Do you honestly believe that if Palin were the Democratic candidate under investigation for a fairly minor (certainly nonimpeachable) matter, you would not be outraged by what has happened? At first the Democratic candidate embraces the investigation and welcomes a bipartisan inquiry. But then, after the Democratic candidate is thrust into the national limelight by becoming the VP nominee, the head of the investigation, an avowed supporter of the Republican presidential candidate, announces that the Democrats have made a huge mistake and that an "October surprise" that can sink the Democratic ticket will likely ensue from the final report of the investigation.

    And you seriously make the claim that it is only McCain operatives that turned this into a partisan matter. It's too ridiculous for words.

    Personally, I watched enough of this kind of investigation during the Clinton presidency. I am embarrassed that the Democratic party that I have called my own for three decades has sunk so low. We have become what we for so long claimed to despise.


    Give Me A Break (none / 0) (#59)
    by john horse on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 02:22:16 PM EST
    Do you honestly believe that if Palin were the Democratic candidate under investigation for a fairly minor (certainly nonimpeachable) matter, you would not be outraged by what has happened?

    In our country political office is a public trust.  What Palin is being investigated for is abuse of power.  If true, this is unacceptable whether the person is a Democrat or a Republican.  You seem to think that abuse of power is a "fairly minor" matter.  We have a difference of opinion.  

    And as far as why she is not cooperating, what you are saying it that every member of the bipartisan committee investigating her, including the Republicans on the committee and the chief investigator Steve Branchflower, are too partisan to give her a fair hearing.  Give me a break.  

    This is as opposed to the usual reason that people don't cooperate which is that they are guilty as sin.  


    And Travelgate (none / 0) (#60)
    by Inky on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 04:46:42 PM EST
    was supposed to be about the abuse of power and improper firings as well. And yes, I also considered that a "fairly minor matter." At least I'm consistent. Did you get equally up in arms over that supposed scandal?

    The fact of the matter is that as soon as Hollis French promised an "October surprise," he gave the Palin camp a legitimate excuse to stonewall the investigation. I don't see why you have so much trouble seeing that.


    Myself, I Didn't Follow Travelgate (none / 0) (#61)
    by daring grace on Sun Sep 21, 2008 at 10:46:49 AM EST
    until it was well underway and increasingly obvious by then that it WAS a partisan witch hunt. By then, too, the investigations of the Clintons initiated by Republicans in Congress were proliferating so it became even more obvious there was a partisan vendetta behind it all.

    That's not at all clear here. The 'October surprise' thing, sure, okay--one Dem trying to make political hay. I can't say whether I would be outraged at that or not if it was reversed because both sides do this all the time.

    There seems like a reason for the investigation, and by choosing to stonewall now rather than face this head on and move on, Governor Palin is making more out of this than it might be if she would just step up and deal with it once and for all.

    Her not doing so makes it look like she is hiding something--if not something unethical, then something politically inconvenient. In any case, now that she is not cooperating, she is as much to blame for the ongoing drama.


    SO you wouldn't mind (5.00 / 0) (#16)
    by prose on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 08:59:31 AM EST
    another Cheney'esque legal-blocking secretive administration, as long as we get health care reform?

    That's not what she said at all. (none / 0) (#39)
    by Teresa on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:55:15 AM EST
    She said that due to the financial crisis facing us, we can forget health care and all the other things we wanted/need. That makes me incredibly sad.

    I don't see anywhere that she stated support for Palin. She's just pointing out what our focus should be right now. At least that's the way I read it.


    the document.  It is precisely relevant to Palin's veracity.  Note, this is not an unofficial inquiry.  Palin is expected to tell the whole truth.    

    well (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by connecticut yankee on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 09:47:16 AM EST
    These are valid issues.  Palin keeps changing her story and it still doesnt add up.

    If you can't see "abuse of power" written all over this woman then you arent looking very hard.  For those of us who choose to look, she looks like the very worst of the Bush administration.

    Lots of people (5.00 / 0) (#23)
    by eric on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 09:56:55 AM EST
    seem to think they can tell Jeralyn what to post on her blog.  That's odd.

    This is an investigation of the propriety of Palin's firing of someone.  It's legal stuff, yes.  And it may be boring to some, but it is what some lawyers like to think about.  It isn't about some kind of shallow tabloid level interest in this strange situation, it is about whether Palin was legally justified in doing something, and whether she has lied about it.  This is about actual legal documents which are being filed with the court that do not appear to be truthful.

    Does any of this make for great political arguments?  Probably not because it does get complicated, and as some have indicated, it is boring.  And finally, is it the most important thing going on in the world right now?  Probably not.  But it is interesting to see how this plays out, to me, anyway.

    The Investigation Was Launched (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by MTSINAIMAMA on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:09:23 AM EST
    BEFORE Palin was nominated. Wouldn't you think it would be in her own best interest to co-operate? She certainly thought so before her nomination. That's what she told Alaskans back then. Full and complete disclosure.

    This investigation was well under (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by befuddledvoter on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:10:16 AM EST
    way prior to Palin's VP nomination. There is no "rush," as far as I can see.  It is just proceeding.  For some strange reason some folks want it to just stop and then continue after Nov election.  Why would they ever do that?  Whether or not Palin lied as a pubic official in an official legislative investigation is relevant to her competency to serve as VP.  

    The legislature (5.00 / 0) (#29)
    by befuddledvoter on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:13:38 AM EST
    is often called the "general court."  Do you think that it is OK to lie to the legislature or jut plain refuse to comply with their inquiry because it is not a "court" in your eyes?  I would rethink that position.  Think US Congressional inquiries.  Think all those who have been convicted of perjury for lieing there.  

    huh? (5.00 / 0) (#32)
    by connecticut yankee on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:33:37 AM EST
    Totally inaccurate!

    The investigation was moved up after Palin aides began to withdraw from the process.  The initial date of the report was Oct 31, which would be far worse than the new date of Oct 10.  I believe the republicans on the panel felt she was getting a break.

    Really? (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by candideinnc on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:59:46 AM EST
    Abuse of power is one of the defining earmarks of the Bush administration.  Failure to abide by the law is not a he said/she said issue.  HIPAA laws, confidentiality of personnel matters, unjustifiable hirings and firings, cronyism!  Why do you think the economy is in the crapper?  It is because the Thugs are more interested in greedy accumulation of wealth than in a well functioning democracy.

    The idea that we shouldn't thoroughly investigate this matter before the election is outrageous.  The people have an obligation to know who they are voting for.  If the charges are unjustified, fine.  But these are serious issues that say worlds about a woman who could become president.  If her administrative judgment is as horrible as it appears, the public should be apprised.

    Methinks (3.33 / 3) (#21)
    by WS on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 09:53:25 AM EST
    some people just want to stop any criticism of Palin and keep their idealized version of her as the second coming of Hillary intact in their minds.  

    You're insulting Hillary if you think Sarah Palin is in the same league as her or that you think Palin shares the same Democratic values as Hillary.  

    Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton.  She's more like Bush or Cheney with lipstick right down to policy and personality.

    Hopefully not too many (5.00 / 0) (#56)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 12:57:39 PM EST
    Most would hopefully see Palin for the uninformed religious wacko that she is.....

    Oh well (none / 0) (#19)
    by Steve M on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 09:42:32 AM EST
    on to the next excuse!

    Wrong (none / 0) (#30)
    by eric on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:16:51 AM EST
    When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin filed suit earlier this week to stop the Personnel Board investigation into TrooperGate . . .

    Sounds like a lawsuit was filed to me.

    Also, a link from ABC refers to court filings:  Suit Filed to Stop Troopergate Probe into Gov. Sarah Palin

    Which is wrong? TL's link or yours? (none / 0) (#34)
    by Cream City on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:38:00 AM EST
    TL says Palin sued -- or, specifically, the AG.  Your link says GOP legislators sued to stop the investigation.  So one is wrong, both are wrong, which is it?

    Palin changed course (none / 0) (#53)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 12:47:19 PM EST
    in mid-stream by first having her lawyer file a formal request for a state personnel board to take over the investigation and then withdraw it days later once McCain's lawyer joined the team. Details are here.

    The court lawsuit was filed by the Republicans.

    For anyone who was confused, I've changed the word "suit" in the first sentence to "request." It was a formal request filed by Palin's counsel regarding a legislative proceeding.


    Wrong (none / 0) (#43)
    by MTSINAIMAMA on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 11:05:02 AM EST
    Palin is co-operating with the investigation with the State Personnel Board. She is refusing to co-operate with Branchflower's investigation.

    I don't have to be a psychic to see what's on the horizon: two reports, one exonerating her, and one taking her to the woodshed.

    It's also being said that Talis Colberg, the Alaskan Attorney Genreal who has been MIA since issuing his opinion on Tuesday, will NOT be returning to his post. He is also being challenged on his novel thesis that one can "voluntarily" refuse to honor a subpoena.


    No, you are wrong (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by txpublicdefender on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 01:06:42 PM EST
    Palin is not cooperating with the investigation by the State Personnel Board.  In fact, after asking them to investigate (in an effort to get the legislature to stop investigating), her lawyer has now notified the Board that they have investigated, and there was no violation, so they are asking the Board to stop their investigation.

    exactly right (none / 0) (#58)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 01:18:57 PM EST

    Troopergate (none / 0) (#33)
    by caesar on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:34:37 AM EST
    Why is this not headline news anymore!?? I hate who determines whether or not these things get summarily swept under the rug. Why do reporters lay off the Republicans and give them a break? These are very trying times, and we need responsible reporters to do their jobs and keep the pressure on these incompetent conservatives that are running this country into the ground!

    Maybe because Wall Street happened? (none / 0) (#46)
    by nycstray on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 11:25:45 AM EST
    Hmmmm (none / 0) (#44)
    by Pianobuff on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 11:16:02 AM EST
    Anyone notice that the document is dated the 19th but the signature is dated the 18th?

    Not saying what it means, but it does leave open some speculation.

    Scenario? (none / 0) (#45)
    by Pianobuff on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 11:20:44 AM EST
    As someone else is wondering...

    Where's the contradiction? Follow the timeline: Nizich approves the trip on June 18; Palin and/or Katz get wind of it shortly thereafter and object, leading to Katz's e-mail of July 7; Monegan "persists" in his plans to go, and he's finally canned four days later. Sounds sort of like ... a last straw. Even Monegan, quoted at the very end of the ABC piece, admits it sounds more like a breakdown in communication within Palin's staff, with Nizich not on the same page as everyone else, than some sort of cover-up.

    That wouldn't reflect well on staff communications but that would be a different kind of criticism.

    Heh (none / 0) (#50)
    by Steve M on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 12:00:01 PM EST
    "Someone else"?  Why so coy?