Palin E-Mails Show Intense Interest in Trooper's Penalty
Thursday, September 4, 2008
EAGLE RIVER, Alaska, Sept. 3 -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the running mate for GOP presidential candidate John McCain, wrote e-mails that harshly criticized Alaska state troopers for failing to fire her former brother-in-law and ridiculed an internal affairs investigation into his conduct.
The e-mails were shown to The Washington Post by a former public safety commissioner, Walter Monegan, who was fired by Palin in July. Monegan has given copies of the e-mails to state ethics investigators to support his contention that he was dismissed for failing to fire Trooper Mike Wooten, who at the time was feuding with Palin's family.
"This trooper is still out on the street, in fact he's been promoted," said a Feb. 7, 2007, e-mail sent from Palin's personal Yahoo account and written to give Monegan permission to speak on a violent-crime bill before the state legislature.
"It was a joke, the whole year long 'investigation' of him," the e-mail said. "This is the same trooper who's out there today telling people the new administration is going to destroy the trooper organization, and that he'd 'never work for that b****', Palin'.)"
Asked about the e-mails, Palin's campaign spokeswoman, Maria Comella, said that Palin was merely alerting officials to potential threats to her family and that there is no evidence that Palin ever ordered Wooten to be fired.
"Let's be clear, Governor Palin has done nothing wrong and is an open book in this process. Mr. Monegan even stated himself that no one ever told him to fire anyone, period," Comella said later in a statement. "The Governor was rightly expressing concern about Mr. Wooten."
Palin is under investigation by a bipartisan state legislative body that was authorized last month to look into whether Palin pressured Monegan to force Wooten from the state police force and whether his failure to do so led to his dismissal.
Palin had promised to cooperate with the legislative inquiry, but this week moved to change the jurisdiction of the case to the state personnel board, which Palin appoints. Her attorney, Thomas V. Van Flein, who was hired last month, challenged the jurisdiction of Stephen Branchflower, the retired prosecutor hired to investigate and report back to the legislature by the last week of October.
When Palin entered the governor's office in late 2006, Wooten already had been reprimanded, reassigned and suspended for five days for incidents reported by Palin's family. They had filed complaints in April 2005 after her younger sister's marriage fell apart and the couple battled in a bitter child-custody dispute.
Palin has said previously that she discussed Wooten with Monegan only in the context of security concerns for the family. Monegan has said that Palin never directly told him to fire Wooten but that the message was clearly conveyed through repeated messages from Palin, her husband and three members of her Cabinet.
"To allege that I, or any member of my family . . . directed disciplinary action be taken against any employee of the Department of Public Safety, is, quite simply, outrageous," Palin said in a statement in mid-July after Monegan's dismissal.
In August, Palin acknowledged that "pressure could have been perceived to exist, although I have only now become aware of it."