« Did Obama "Lie" About Ayers? | Main | "Obama is an Arab" Follow-Up Interview »

Breaking News: Sarah Palin Guilty of Ethics Law Violations

She broke the law.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin violated ethics laws and abused her power as governor in pressing to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, an independent legislative investigation concluded today.

In a report whose release was the subject of a high-stakes political showdown that went all the way to the Alaska Supreme Court, investigator Stephen Branchflower concluded that Palin communicated her displeasure with the trooper, Mike Wooten, and allowed her husband to apply pressure to have Wooten fired.

The report also found that Palin's unhappiness that Wooten had not been fired was "a likely contributing factor" in the firing of former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan. Monegan testified that he had received repeated communications from Palin and her husband over Wooten.

However, the Wooten issue was "not the sole reason" Monegan was fired, the report said. Palin, who has been fighting off allegations of wrongdoing in the so-called Troopergate case since Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate, has insisted Monegan was fired because he ignored her demands to cut budgets in his department.

The governor's husband, Todd Palin, has admitted he advocated forcefully to have Wooten removed because of his allegedly inappropriate actions, including driving under the influence of alcohol, shooting a moose without a permit, threatening Sarah Palin's father and giving his son a slight jab with an electric Taser gun.

"The evidence supports the conclusion that Gov. Palin, at the least, engaged in 'official action' by her inaction, if not her active participation or assistance to her husband in attempting to get Trooper Wooten fired," the report said, adding that "there is evidence of her active participation."

The report found that Palin "knowingly, as that term is defined in the [ethics] statutes, permitted Todd Palin to use the governor's office and the resources of the governor's office, including access to state employees, to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired."

This activity was in violation of the state Ethics Act, the report said, which holds that public officials have a duty of public trust that prevents them from attempting to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action.

Update: I've waded through a portion of the findings (pdf) and so far have drawn the following conclusions from the report.

Palin told Monegan to fire her brother-in-law Mike Wooten.

Palin subsequently fired Monegan, but the firing of Monegan was not illegal - she had the right to fire without cause (without having to justify it with reasons for the firing).

But pressuring Monegan and others to do things like get her brother-in-law Mike Wooten fired, or not get hired by the Wasilla Police Department, was an ethics law violation.

She did not violate the law by firing Monegan.

She did violate ethics laws by using her executive position in attempting to get Wooten fired, and otherwise doing "harm" to her brother-in-law.

The findings include evidence that Palin personally called Monegan in an attempt to get Wooten fired.

Sarah was directly involved.

She also stood by while Todd also attempted to get Wooten fired, and was found at fault for not stopping Todd.

"She violated Alaska Statute 39.52.010 by "acting upon personal or financial interests in the performance of their public responsibilities."

In her official capacity as Governor, Sarah Palin "acted upon personal interests" in trying to get her brother-in-law fired.

Update II:

Nathan Thornburgh at Time cuts to the nut of the matter:

The 263 pages of the report show a co-ordinated application of pressure on Monegan so transparent and ham-handed that it was almost certain to end in public embarrassment for the governor. The only surprise is that Troopergate is national news, not just a sorry piece of political gristle to be chewed on by Alaska politicos over steaks at Anchorage's Club Paris.

A harsh verdict? Consider the report's findings. Not only did people at almost every level of the Palin administration engage in repeated inappropriate contact with Walt Monegan and other high-ranking officials at the Department of Public Safety, but Monegan and his peers constantly warned these Palin disciples that the contact was inappropriate and probably unlawful. Still, the emails and calls continued -- in at least one instance on recorded state trooper phone lines.

Small town Wasilla-like politics played out on a large, statewide scale - just days after Sarah Palin became Governor..

And yet Palin wasn't smart enough to heed Monegan's hints to back down -- she kept on coming -- like a pit bull.

Pit bulls may be mean, but they're not the smartest dog in the park, just the most stubborn.

Update: Palin responds to a reporter asking if she abused her power in Alaska:

Note that she only references the finding that she did not act illegally by firing Monegan -- conveniently ignoring the reporter's question and the fact that she abused her power and violated ethics laws by pushing to get Mike Wooten fired. She's apparently been practicing her talking points.

She avoids the question and gets on the bus. Nice job, Sarah. Run - the truth is catching up to you. Run, Sarah, run....


Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

  • Currently 3.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.5/5 (8 votes cast)


Comments (23)

MunDane:

Umm...no she didn't. Not in the way you are posting it.

Finding Number Two

I find that, although Walt Monegan's refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety. In spite of that, Governor Palin's firing of Commissioner Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads.

See the term "proper and lawful" in there? It really can't have any other meaning, now, can it?

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

She violated Alaska Statute 39.52.010 By "acting upon personal or financial interests in the performance of their public responsibilities."

She had a family interest in Michael Wooten, and she abused Alaskan ethics law when Wooten became an issue in the firing of Monegan. She and/or Todd also called the Wasilla Police Chief and told him to not hire Wooten - and she did so four days after she became governor.

There may be additional violations also. I've only started to read the report - it's 263 pages.

She had the right to fire Monegan without cause, so yes - the firing was proper and lawful.

However, Sarah and Todd used Sarah's office to pursue family interests - Sarah's sister was involved in a divorce with Mike Wooten, and Sarah and Todd used the governor's office to exert influence against her brother in law.

That is a violation of the Alaska ethics law.

The firing was not illegal, but other actions Palin took violated ethics laws in Alaska.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

I'm reading the findings, I don't need to read someone's spin, Chad.

Palin told Monegan to fire her brother-in-law Mike Wooten.

The firing of Monegan was not illegal - she had the right to fire without cause.

But pressuring Monegan and others to do things like get Wooten fired, or not get hired by the Wasilla Police Department, was an ethics law violation.

She did not violate the law by firing Monegan.

She did violate ethics laws by using her executive position in attempting to get Wooten fired, and otherwise doing "harm" to her brother-in-law.

It's that simple.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

"They cited her for it because she didn't keep her husband from contacting Mr. Monegan at Mr. Monegan's own request."

That's only partly true, Chad. That's why it's spin - it's a parsing of the truth.

The findings include evidence that Palin personally called Monegan in an attempt to get Wooten fired.

Sarah was directly involved.

She also stood by while Todd also attempted to get Wooten fired, and was found at fault for not stopping Todd. That's what your spinmeister is yelling about. But your spinner is wrong in suggesting that the findings only cite her for that.

So the spin is

1) Sarah fired Monegan legally.

2) Sarah didn't stop Todd from trying to get Wooten fired.

Suggesting that's the "findings" in total is spin - because there are also findings that Palin herself, through her actions and inactions, abused ethics laws by using her executive office for personal gain.

As I said above -- She violated Alaska Statute 39.52.010 By "acting upon personal or financial interests in the performance of their public responsibilities."

In her official capacity as Governor, Sarah Palin "acted upon personal interests" in trying to get her brother-in-law fired.

Patrick:

This is all just a distraction to keep us from talking about the issues that are of the most concern to the American people. Hmmm, where have I heard this before?

Isn't it funny how Barack Obama can have meaningful ties to an unrepentant terrorist, a criminal slumlord and an anti-American racist preacher and that is perfectly well, good and apparently ethical to you guys but Governor Palin fires a state employee (which was ruled as being within her rights) and you all have the gall to question her ethics considering the overwhelmingly detestable conduct of the trooper Monegan refused to fire? Is this the kind of law enforcement officer you want on the streets looking after your public safety? This is a pretty minor deal by comparison especially when you consider that the scumbag at the root of it all is still on the job. I believe most rational thinking Americans are not going to be overly troubled by all this. But keep telling yourself that Obama's numerous troublesome associations don't bother a large number of American voters.

If you want to see real abuse of power just wait for an Obama administration...

DaveD:

All Obama has to do is pray that the circumstances of this case don't get discussed in detail. They look down their noses at Alaska thinking it's a big state with unsophisticated, small time folks for citizens. And that pretty much describes this ruling.

MunDane:

So, just so I have this straight:

According to you, Lee, she broke a law...

By doing something she had the legal right to do...

And should be fired or resign...

Because someone else did something disgustingly illegal...

And wasn't fired for it.

Machiavelli much?

ALLLLLLLRIGHTY THEN....

Doubting Thomas:

From the finding...

I find that, although Walt Monegan's refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety. In spite of that, Governor Palin's firing of Commissioner Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads.I find that, although Walt Monegan's refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety. In spite of that, Governor Palin's firing of Commissioner Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads.
So... it's wrong to exercise proper and lawful authority?

Wow.

That was from page 8 of the PDF report, by the way.

http://media.adn.com/smedia/2008/10/10/16/Branchflowerreport.source.prod_affiliate.7.pdf

I really don't think you can have it both ways here - if legal and proper use of authority is seen as unethical, then all you're left with for ethical behavior is illegal and improper use of authority and that doesn't make any sense at all.

Of course, when you consider things are inverted in Washington any more, perhaps it does make some sort of perverted sense...

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

The firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan was not illegal.

Palin violated Alaskan ethics laws by trying to get Trooper Mike Wooten fired.

Eric:

Okay I just read through this report. The conclusions made by Branchflower are kooky to say the least.

1) Monegan's termination was not only legal but Branchflower indicates that there were justifiable reasons for the termination. The central allegation made by the Democrats has been that she fired Monegan solely because of Wooten. That's now been busted.

2) While this report includes a section for recommended actions by the State Legislature, nowhere does it recommend any sanctions against Sarah Palin.

3) Where is Wooten's statement and waiver. On Page 77 the report says that Wooten's statement and waiver are on the next page, however the next page is marked 78 and is the recommendations for the legislature. What's up with that?

4) The case is complicated because while she had a personal interest in the Wooten case she also had a professional interest in the case. Doesn't a state governor have an obligation to make sure the state is not employing a rogue cop?

There is no evidence disputing the allegations against Wooten. The tasering incident and the threats against Palin's parents should give people serious doubts about this guy being a cop.

Serious question Lee, please answer. Would you feel comfortable having Wooten as a cop in your neighborhood?

Carolina:

From looking at what's been posted here, it seems the ommenters are not reading closely. Yes, Palin had the legal right to fire Monegan under any circumstances. HOWEVER she did violate ethics laws by pushing Monegan to fire Wooten. The two are separate issues. I recommend reading the entire finding--it's fascinating and an insight into another way of life. For instance, one of the things the Palins cited against Wooten was that he shot a moose without a permit. Yes, he shot the moose without a permit but while his wife, Palin's sister, who did have a permit, was standing next to him. And they dragged it home for Wooten's father-in-law, Palin's father, to cut up. Monegan pointed out that if he were to go after Wooten, he'd have to bring in Palin's sister and father as well, since they were complicit. I'm sorry to say so, but this looks like a very petty use of a governor's time. Same with citing that Wooten used a squad car to drop his son off at school (turned out he had permission from his supervisor). But maybe there's not much to do up there in Alaska.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

"3) Where is Wooten's statement and waiver. On Page 77 the report says that Wooten's statement and waiver are on the next page, however the next page is marked 78 and is the recommendations for the legislature. What's up with that?"

I don't know if this relates, but I understand that a portion of the investigation findings is "confidential" and will not be released to the public.

"Serious question Lee, please answer. Would you feel comfortable having Wooten as a cop in your neighborhood? "

That's not a serious question -- it's an attempt to find some justification for Palin's violation of ethics laws.

Having a Vice-President who selectively chooses to violate laws when they feel its justified is not an option. Palin used her position in violation of ethics laws.

Is robbing a bank to feed your hungry child a justification for breaking the law?

Palin practiced small-town Wasilla-style politics - it violated the ethics laws in Alaska, and this kind of 'politics for personal gain' has no place in Washington DC.

She says she's for "reform in Washington." She's as dirty as the rest of them.

Eric:

The most serious allegations against Wooten were tasering his 10 yr old stepson and threatening the life of his inlaws.

Lee, how about answering the question? I'll ask it again, would you want Mike Wooten as a cop in your neighborhood? You won't answer that question because you dn't want to admit that the answer is NO.

Palin had direct knowledge about Wooten's actions. After a year long investigation he was found guilty and yet only got a slap on the wrist which was appealed and REDUCED.

Palin's actions are mitigated by the behavior of Wooten and the subsequent investigation. Why, because the Governor has an obligation to not have a rogue cop on the payroll. The Governor also has an obligation to know if rogue cops are being protected by the Thin Blue Line.

I would want my Governor, Republican or Democrat to pursue rogue cops. Wouldn't you?

MunDane:

Except, Lee, not even Monegan said Todd or Sarah tried to the trooper fired...

"For the record, no one ever said fire Wooten. Not the governor. Not Todd. Not any of the other staff," Monegan said Friday from Portland. "What they said directly was more along the lines of 'This isn't a person that we would want to be representing our state troopers.' "

Who, remember, among other duties are the Governor's security detail.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

"I would want my Governor, Republican or Democrat to pursue rogue cops. Wouldn't you?"

I would want my Governor to not violate laws. It all has to be done legally, Eric.

The investigation found that Palin violated ethics laws in the way she handled this matter.

Was Wooten the only bad Alaska state employee?

No, but he was the only one married to Palin's sister, and Palin's pursuit of Wooten was a personal matter. Using her office for personal reasons is unethical.

Eric:

Lee, I notice you still have not answered my question. But no matter, I'll ask a different one.

Taking Palin out of the equation for a moment. Regardless of who was governor, in fact for the sake of argument let's assume the Governor was Democrat Tommy Knowles. Governor Knowles has just been handed a report that says a police officer has tasered a 10 yr old and threatened the life of his in laws.

Would Wooten's actions qualify as a legitimate public safety concern for Governor Knowles?

Lee Ward:

Wooten's actions were investigated and the authorities responsible for making the decision decided that there was no justification to fire Wooten.

So no, there was no legitimate public safety concern according to the investigation into Wooten's behavior.

Wooten denies that he threatened anyone's life.

There's no proof that he did.

He also didn't "taser a ten year old" -- you've been reading too many right wing blogs. The ten year old wanted to know what it felt like to be tasered and Wooten gave him a mild demonstration.

Wooten exhibited poor judgment, but saying he "tasered a 10 year old" misrepresents the facts. How very Republican of you, Eric.

So people who exaggerate or lie about the facts in an attempt to justify Palin's abuse of power and violation of Alaskan ethics laws are rather pathetic in my view. I know you're just repeating the lies told to you by others, but you've asked for my opinion so I'm telling you.

Wooten was investigated and it was determined that firing him was not justified and that no threat existed.

Palin was investigated it was determined that she acted unethically and abused the power of her office.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Just be sure to attend a McCain or Palin event and suggest that your candidate bring up Rezko, Jo.

Bringing up Ayers has cost Republicans votes so far, but we Democrats aren't satisfied with an 11 point leads in the polls... 13 or 15 points would be even better.

And thank you for supporting Obama - keep up the good work. You're doing a heck of a job there, Jo.

Steve Crickmore:

After eight years of the Bush administration bulling public officials to advance the Bush/Cheney/Rove own personal interests or personal vendettas Palin would seem to fit that description to a tee based on her troopergate performance. Where have all the once nice, tolerant conservatives gone and do Americans 'exceptionally' like bullies or authoritarian personalities in seats of power, are two of the questions I have been asking for the last several years.

Hilzoy sums up why the Palins are bullies and why the Constitution necessitated a division of powers to prevent such abuses.

If you don't accept the rule of law, you might think that taking political power allows you to take any kind of vengeance you want on anyone who crosses you. This includes not just your ex-brother-in-law, but perfectly good Public Safety Commissioners who do not do your bidding.

Not accepting those rules is wrong in its own right. The state has enormous power, and one of the things that keeps it in check is that public officials are expected not to use it to advance personal vendettas. Sarah and Todd Palin obviously disagree. This fact alone should disqualify them from high office.

But it's also wrong because it prevents people from doing their actual jobs. Firing Monegan because he wouldn't fire Wooten obviously deprived Alaska of a perfectly good Public Safety Commissioner. But besides that, every minute that Sarah Palin's staff spent talking to someone about Wooten, and every minute that Monegan and his subordinates had to spend listening to them, was a minute that they were not spending advancing the interests of the people of Alaska, who paid their salaries.

We pay public servants to advance our interests, not theirs. When we discover that someone has put their interests above ours, we should punish them, at least if we want to give them any incentive to do their jobs right.We should not reward bullies who try to use their power over their subordinates to advance their own agendas. And if this report is at all accurate, Sarah and Todd Palin are bullies.


Eric:

Lee,
Here is the result of the investigation:
http://media.adn.com/smedia/2008/07/21/16/Wooten_suspend_letter.source.prod_affiliate.7.pdf

I suggest you read it. Col Grimes did not find tasing a 10 year old to be a minor incident. It also lists a number of other violations by Wooten over his career. The report also makes these statements:

"If you had been involved in an incident or accident immediately following this event (drinking and driving), your actions would have involved criminal liability, but also exposed the Department to great discredit, embarrassment and additional civil liability"

"The history noted above (Lee I suggest you read that history) indicates a significant pattern of judgement failures, during which you have repeatedly shown yourself incapable or unwilling to maintain a demeanor demonstrating or embracing departmental expectations for your proper and appropriate conduct. The history bears out your failure to change or correct your behavior or your inability to behave according to our canons of police ethics and rules of conduct. Your unacceptable conduct appears to have continued and even escalated. The findings of the administrative investigation indicate that in addition to the events addressed above, that activity sustained in the investigation was occuring concurrently. The record clearly indicates a serious and concentrated pattern of unacceptable and at times illegal activity occurring over a lengthy period, which establishes a course of conduct totally at odds with the ethics of our profession."

This investigation did not address the threats to Palin's in laws. A later investigation concluded that he had. http://www.adn.com/politics/story/476430.html

Wooten's ex-wife at one point was granted a domestic violence protective order against Wooten.

You say there was no continuing public safety concern. That's crap. Read the report and the article. He has a history of repeated infractions and as Col. Grimes said, his unacceptable conduct has continued and even escalated.

For all of that, Wooten was suspended for just 10 days. He appealed that decision and the suspension was reduced by half. What makes you think this incident stopped him? What would it take for him to be fired?

Herman:

An additional law that Palin may well have violated may have been brought to light by the hacking of her email. Republican politicians just love to break the law by using private email accounts for government "business" in order to conceal their wicked intentions (See Bush Administration). The conjecture some have made is that Palin broke the law by using private email accounts so that the extent of her husband's involvement with official state matters would not be revealed.

Doubting Thomas:

"Conjecture some have made..."

There is conjecture that Ayres has had undue influence on the forming of Obama's policies. Should we demand a comprehensive searach for ALL email accounts that Obama has used over the last 10 years to see if this is so? After all, he MIGHT have some private email accounts have have been used to break the law by hiding the extent of his involvement with Ayres and Rezko and other unsavory (to normal people) Chicago characters.

I do believe a witch hunt is in order, and ANY elected official with a private email account should be put under intense scrutiny.

Let's look at Obama's next. 10 years should do it.

Herman:

"Should we demand a comprehensive searach [SIC] for ALL email accounts that Obama has used over the last 10 years to see if this is so?" -- Doubting Thomas

What I doubt, Thomas, is your rationality. No evidence has come to light that Mr. Obama has used a private email account to conduct government business. However, the situation is different with Governor Palin. Here is the headline from a news article at Juneau Empire.com (read it and weep):

"Governor routinely uses private account for state business"

http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/091608/sta_333013278.shtml


Advertisments

Categories

Archives

Technorati



Add to Technorati Favorites

Credits

Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

All original content copyright © 2007 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark. Wizbang Blue™ is a trademark of Wizbang®, LLC.

Powered by Movable Type 3.35

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.