McCain Camp Clears Palin of ‘Troopergate’ Wrongdoing
A probe investigating whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin used her office to settle family vendettas has cleared Palin of any wrongdoing in the “Troopergate” scandal.
There’s just one catch. The investigation was conducted by the McCain campaign, and released its findings Thursday. The Alaska state legislature is expected to release its own report today on whether Palin dismissed a public official, Walter Monegan, for resisting pressure to fire her estranged brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, an Alaska state trooper.
From The Associated Press:
Lawmakers are expected to release their own findings Friday. Campaign officials have yet to see that report — the result of an investigation that began before she was tapped as McCain’s running mate — but said the investigation has falsely portrayed a legitimate policy dispute between a governor and her commissioner as something inappropriate.
“The following document will prove Walt Monegan’s dismissal was a result of his insubordination and budgetary clashes with Gov. Palin and her administration,” campaign officials wrote. “Trooper Wooten is a separate issue.”
All right, there you have it. Monegan was relieved because he was a bad employee. But, if the charges are baseless, then why the big investigation, led by the GOP-controlled legislature?
The campaign’s report instead blames former campaign opponent, Andrew Halcro, who has a blog, of conspiring with Wooten to pin Monegan’s dismissal on the family’s dispute with Wooten. Three days after Monegan was fired, they say, Wooten told his ex-wife, Palin’s sister, that: “You guys are going down. Get ready for the show.”
Two days after that confrontation, they say, Halcro and Wooten met at a hotel bar in Anchorage for more than three hours — and that evening, Halcro posted the first accusations on his blog that Monegan had been fired because of a vendetta against Wooten by the Palin family.
“It is tragic that a false story hatched by a blogger after drinks with Trooper Wooten led the legislature to allocate over $100,000 of public money to be spent in what has become a politically driven investigation,” the 21-page report concludes.
Although the report describes Wooten as a separate issue, the McCain campaign goes into great detail about the “rogue” trooper and his “long history of unstable and erratic behavior.” The campaign describes allegations of violence, including threatening Palin’s family and shooting his stepson with a stun gun.
The report also includes allegations that Wooten cheated the workers’ compensation system. Todd Palin has said he had numerous conversations with government officials about why Wooten was allowed to stay on the job.
So, basically, according to the McCain campaign, Palin dismissed Monegan for perfectly legitimate reasons, and didn’t actively pressure him to fire Wooten. But, just for good measure, Wooten was an unstable rogue who — though Palin had no interest in getting him fired — deserved to be fired anyway.
After initially agreeing to cooperate and publicly welcoming the investigation, the Palin administration began stone-walling after becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee. Ultimately, Palin’s husband, Todd, and seven of Palin’s aides testified in the legislature’s probe. The McCain campaign has been accused of interfering with the investigation to stall the final report until after the election.
The campaign has denied being worried about the potential fallout from the investigation’s final report — but this last-minute release to get out its side of the story, appears to be an effort to lessen the impact of the official report.
We should know what that impact will be later today.
Watch for TWI’s Laura McGann on this.