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Monday, September 8, 2008

[AK] Investigating Palin's Troopergate Abuse of Power allegations (2)

...Now the governor's lawyer has forbidden her staff from any direct contact with the investigator, forcing the lawmakers to consider subpoenas... Palin is under investigation by the state legislature to determine if she pressured the state police commissioner to fire Wooten and then fired the commissioner because he did not... The union representing [Trooper Mike] Wooten filed an ethics complaint last week with the state attorney general, alleging that members of the governor's administration had illegally looked at the trooper's personnel file in search of damaging information...

PALIN'S EX-BROTHER-IN-LAW SAYS HE REGRETS BAD BLOOD
Washington Post
By James V. Grimaldi
September 6, 2008; A07
[Excerpts] The state trooper at the center of Gov. Sarah Palin's "Troopergate" scandal denied Friday that he ever threatened to kill Palin's father and expressed regret that his case has exploded into the national media. "I would like to put this behind me and move on with my life... I don't wish ill will on anyone. I think that the nomination that Sarah got is great for the state of Alaska. I wish her good luck and the family good luck. I honestly think that everyone involved in this wanted to put this beyond us... I was a member of that family for five years. I cherish those memories... I will carry them with me for the rest of my life. There are several things that will be handled differently on my part, and if I could do it over differently, I would." Wooten, however, contradicted Palin's statement that she overheard him in 2005 threaten her father during an argument with Palin's younger sister, Molly McCann, Wooten's wife at the time. Wooten noted that an internal investigation failed to sustain the death-threat allegation. "That did not happen," Wooten said... Palin is under investigation by the state legislature to determine if she pressured the state police commissioner to fire Wooten and then fired the commissioner because he did not. A senator leading the investigation said Friday that the bipartisan committee moved up the completion date of the report several weeks to Oct. 10. Wooten and the governor's sister divorced in 2005, and the couple have been embroiled in testy child-custody fights. On the same day that McCann filed for divorce in April 2005, the governor's father called the state troopers to report allegations of wrongdoing. Complaints filed by McCann, Sarah Palin and their family resulted in more than 20 internal affairs investigations... He [Wooten] said his stepson became curious and wanted to feel the Taser in the same way that troopers tested the device on themselves during training... Jon Marc Peterson, one of Wooten's attorneys, said the Taser incident was a violation of policy because he was using state equipment for personal use. "It was not the actual Tasing of the stepson that was the issue," he said. Wooten's wife was in the home at the time, investigative reports state. The boy's extended family, including Chuck Heath, the father of Sarah Palin, thought the story was humorous, Wooten said. "If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't do it," Wooten said. "It's one of those situations that nobody cared about. Everybody laughed about it, until several years later and it was made to be something it wasn't. It wasn't a good idea." Wooten said he wishes he could turn back the clock. "I was a young guy, a trooper fresh out of the military, made some bad choices, made some mistakes and paid my penance," Wooten said. "I have not made any more mistakes and I definitely have not repeated my mistakes"... [Full article here]

[Note: This video says Trooper Wooten DID threaten Palin's dad would eat a bullet - but that has not been established.]

SUBPOENAS TO BE ISSUED FOR TROOPERGATE PROBE
Associated Press
By STEVE QUINN
September 5, 2008
[Excerpts] The Alaska Legislature is hastening its ethics investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner, making it far more likely it will be completed before November's election. State Sen. Hollis French said Friday that seven witnesses told the Legislature's investigator they will refuse depositions and canceled their meetings. French, who is overseeing the investigation into whether Palin abused her power, said the Legislature will subpoena these witnesses, who do not include the governor. Lawmakers say they have put the investigation on a fast track now that Palin is Republican John McCain's running mate. The investigation previously was expected to end on Oct. 31. French said the new target date for investigator Stephen Branchflower to complete the report is Oct. 10. "It's just basic fairness to the governor," said French, an Anchorage Democrat who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee... Palin's state-hired attorney Thomas Van Flein said the matter should be taken up by the state's personnel board, made up of three people appointed by former Gov. Frank Murkowski. Van Flein and Palin have asked the three members to resolve the dispute over the firing. In the meantime, several state employees working for the governor or her administration and deemed crucial witnesses by Branchflower have canceled appointments to give depositions. All potentially could be subpoenaed... [Full article here]

ALASKA OFFICIALS WEIGH SUBPOENAS FOR PALIN STAFF OVER FIRING
The Wall Street Journal
By MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS
September 8, 2008
[Excerpts] An Alaska state investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner is turning into a power struggle between the state's executive and legislative branches. While Gov. Palin, Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate, hits the campaign trail, lawmakers in Alaska are scheduled to meet Friday to decide whether to issue subpoenas to at least seven Palin administration officials. All of the officials had previously agreed to meet with the independent investigator looking into Gov. Palin's firing of Commissioner Walt Monegan in July. Her critics say she did so because he refused to fire a state trooper who was involved in a bitter divorce with Gov. Palin's sister. But the state officials canceled shortly before the depositions, just after Sen. McCain picked the governor as his running mate, which gave a national profile to what had been a local controversy. Now the governor's lawyer has forbidden her staff from any direct contact with the investigator, forcing the lawmakers to consider subpoenas, according to a news release issued Friday by the bipartisan leadership of the state House and Senate Judiciary committees. A Palin spokesman said that was a "routine" letter requiring the investigator to go through the lawyer. The spokesman, Taylor Griffin, was unable to identify any Palin aide who had talked to the investigator since the lawyer had issued the gag order. "This was such an orderly process prior to this unique honor of Gov. Palin being selected as candidate for vice president," House Judiciary Chairman Jay Ramras, a Republican, said Sunday. "We're just trying to discharge our duty, which is to share in the oversight in addressing this issue without trying to politically charge it"... The governor's critics have alleged that she refused to approve Mr. Monegan's budget request and ultimately dismissed him because he didn't fire the trooper, Mike Wooten. The governor's husband, Todd Palin, allegedly tried to secure Mr. Wooten's dismissal, too. Mr. Wooten divorced the governor's sister, Molly McCann, in 2005. Her family accused Mr. Wooten of violent and threatening behavior. An internal police investigation found Mr. Wooten guilty of shooting a moose cow without a permit and testing a taser on his stepson. He admitted to both incidents and served a five-day suspension without pay... Mr. Griffin (Palin's campaign spokesman) said the governor doesn't believe the legislative body has the authority to look into Mr. Monegan's dismissal. He couldn't say whether state officials would honor the subpoenas if issued... The allegations have spawned four related investigations. The union representing Mr. Wooten filed an ethics complaint last week with the state attorney general, alleging that members of the governor's administration had illegally looked at the trooper's personnel file in search of damaging information... [Full article here]

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