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 Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dallas New Editorial: Palin's Troopergate actions disturbing

  Read here on DALLAS NEWS

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin claims the Troopergate investigation clears her of wrongdoing in the firing of her public safety commissioner, which it does not.

The state ethics panel investigation – a bipartisan effort started by a Legislature controlled by her own Republican party – found that though she was technically within her rights to fire the man, she violated state ethics law and abused her power in doing so.

Specifically, the report found, the governor allowed her husband, Todd, to strong-arm government employees in an effort to get someone to fire a state trooper, Michael Wooten, who was going through an ugly divorce with the governor's sister. The state investigator rejected the Palin family's claims that Trooper Wooten was a personal threat, concluding that the governor misused her authority "to advance a personal agenda."

Ms. Palin would be wise to quit trying to spin her way out of this mess.

It would be far more plausible if she admitted error but said she and her husband acted out of fear – perhaps misplaced – for the family's safety.

But to claim vindication when the report is actually fairly damning should give even McCain-Palin supporters pause.

The temptation to use public power to settle private accounts bedevils all politicians. This Troopergate imbroglio is eerily reminiscent of the 1993 Travelgate scandal involving first lady Hillary Clinton. Her behind-the-scenes machinations against the White House Travel Office – engineering the dismissal of career employees, apparently for the benefit of the Clintons' Arkansas cronies – were legal but unethical.

Just because something is legal on paper, of course, doesn't make it right.

This story would be confined to local newspapers in the moose belt if the Alaska governor weren't running to become vice president. Since she is, Americans have a right to expect that politicians asking for their votes will be good stewards of their trust.

Ms. Palin's best move would be to assure voters that she and her husband take to heart a line from the Alaska report: "Compliance with the code of ethics is NOT optional."

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