SERGE F. KOVALESKI
Read here in New York Times
VIDEO-CLIP: Sarah Palin Found Guilty Of Ethics Violations - PART I
VIDEO-CLIP: Sarah Palin Found Guilty Of Ethics Violations - PART 2
Interview with Walt Monegan
10 Republicans, 4 Democrats
Find Sarah Palin Guilty of Abuse
PALIN ABUSED HER POWER FOR PERSONAL REASONS - SHE IS NOT A REFORMER
Gov. Sarah Palin ABUSED the powers of her office by pressuring subordinates to try to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired, an investigation by the Alaska Legislature has concluded.
Video Clip: BI-PARTISAN Alaskan Panel (10 Republics and 4 Democrats)Found Palin Guilty of Abuse of Power
The inquiry found, however, that she was within her right to dismiss her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, who was the trooper’s boss.
A 263-page report released by lawmakers in Alaska on Friday, found that Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, had herself exerted pressure to get Trooper Michael Wooten dismissed, as well as allowed her husband and subordinates to press for his firing, as a result of a divorce proceeding between him and Ms. Palin’s sister in 2005.
“Such impermissible and repeated contacts,” the report states, “create conflicts of interests for subordinate employees who must choose to either please a superior or run the risk of facing that superior’s displeasure and the possible consequences of that displeasure.”
The report concludes that the action was a violation of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.
What now lies ahead is not fully known at this point. Ms. Palin could be censured by the Legislature, but that is unlikely.
Ms. Palin, who was elected governor in 2006, was tapped as Senator John McCain’s running mate in late August, about a month after an inquiry was opened into her firing of Mr. Monegan.
Her political ascendancy took what was essentially a state personnel matter and elevated it into a national issue, one that has been simmering in the background of an increasingly heated presidential race.
In the report, the independent investigator, Stephen E. Branchflower, a former prosecutor in Anchorage, said that Ms. Palin wrongfully allowed her husband, Todd, to use state resources as part of the effort to have Trooper Wooten dismissed.
The report says she knowingly “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.”
Further, it says, she “knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a PERSONAL agenda.”
In his inquiry, which began on Aug. 11, Mr. Branchflower interviewed 19 people and received written responses from 10 others.
Three years ago, Mr. Wooten and the governor’s sister, Molly McCann, were locked in a harsh divorce and child-custody battle that further turned the Palin family against him. The couple divorced in January 2006.
As a result of several complaints against Trooper Wooten, he was suspended from the state police force for five days.
However, Mr. Branchflower’s report found numerous instances in which Ms. Palin, her husband and her subordinates tried to press for harsher punishment, even though Mr. Monegan and others told them they had gone as far as the law and civil service rules would allow.
Ms. Palin has denied that anyone told Mr. Monegan to dismiss Trooper Wooten, or that the commissioner’s ouster had anything to do with the trooper, who remains on the force.
Sarah Palin Lied about Firing Walt Monegan
But Mr. Monegan has said that he believes he lost his job because he would not bend to pressure to dismiss Trooper Wooten. On July 28, the Legislative Council, a bipartisan body of House and Senate members who can convene to make decisions when the Legislature is not in session, approved an independent investigation into whether the governor abused the powers of her office to pursue a personal vendetta.
Mr. Monegan said in an interview Friday night that he felt relieved.
“I feel that my beliefs and opinions that Wooten was a significant factor, if not the factor, in my termination have been validated,” Mr. Monegan said.
He added, “I was resisting the governor from the very beginning on the Wooten matter to protect her from exactly what just happened to her here, being found to have acted inappropriately.”
The report was released after Alaska lawmakers emerged from a private session in Anchorage where they spent more than of six hours discussing the ethics report and what portions should be made public. The legislative council ended up voting unanimously to make part of the overall report public.
Mr. Branchflower based his finding of abuse of power on Alaska’s Executive Branch Ethics Act, which was established to “discourage executive branch employees from acting upon personal interest in the performance of their public responsibilities and to avoid conflicts of interest in the performance of duty,” the report says.
It says, however, that “Governor Palin’s firing of Commissioner Walt Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads.” It cites the Alaska Constitution, which says “the governor may discharge department heads without cause.”
“In light of this constitutional and statutory authority,” the report continues, “it is clear that Governor Palin could fire Commissioner Walt Monegan at will, for almost any reason, or no reason at all.”
The report states that, while there is no doubt that Mr. Monegan’s “failure to fire Trooper Wooten was a substantial factor in his own firing, the evidence suggest it was not the sole reason.”
Legislative leaders said that in cases like this, a violation of the ethics law would typically be resolved by the state Personnel Board. However, that scenario is complicated by the fact that the panel is already conducting an inquiry of its own. Ms. Palin has pledged to cooperate with that investigation.
Even as Ms. Palin drew large crowds and media attention as she campaigned across the United States, the issue was brewing in Alaska, as the inquiry moved forward. But the campaign repeatedly shrugged off the allegations, stating that they were not serious and that she was not guilty of any wrongdoing.
Still, the allegations undermined the campaign’s portrayal of Ms. Palin as a “maverick” who has taken on special interests and fought for average residents.
Six Republican lawmakers in Alaska had sued to block the investigation, saying it was unfair and partisan.
A lower court rejected the suit, and on Thursday, the Alaska Supreme Court batted down an emergency appeal, paving the way for the publication of the report.
Palin is Incompetent and NOT Qualified as Vice President
Saturday, October 11, 2008