in the “Trooper’gate” Category archives
It’s been over 12 hours now since Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin, has been named as GOP choice of Veep. Already, a desperate Obama camp of supporters are in search of talking points… other than the obviously poor choice of “inexperience”… or a scandal to take back what they perceive as the DNC ticket superiority.
Knowing the Palin-Monegan-Wooten investigation of abuse of power was their prime target, I’ve been spending time this AM researching the chain of events in hopes of beating the media to the political and biased distortions creating a new, and false “truth. I took into consideration that journalists… and ardent supporters like Markg8 on Curt’s thread… will be quick to post what they believe is damning evidence without reading more material on the issue.
So on that note, settle back and catch up with the reality of rural country politics. I’d like to share with you what appears to be the crux of the story, using both pro and con Palin bloggers and news media.
A timeline of events in the so-called “scandal”
4-11-05: Investigation of Mike Wooten by AST (Alaskan State Troopers) over two year allegation of misconduct involving family members commences.
SUMMARY: Molly calls Sarah (not yet Governor) in fear from husband. They leave an open phone line where both Sarah and Molly’s son hear Wooten threaten Molly and Sarah’s father (he’ll “eat an f*#king bullet). Palin doesn’t call police because she doesn’t want to hurt Wooten’s trooper career, nor make the situation worse…. Providing it didn’t get physical. Other incidents with Wooten noted.
8-18-05 Re’interview of both Sarah and Todd Palin. Trooper notes on Sarah interview. And Trooper notes on interview with Todd Palin, plus with bartender of Mug Shot Saloon.
SUMMARY: Sarah confirms an email on Aug 10th, 2005 to Col Julia Grimes, Director of AST (Alaska State Troopers) complaining of Wooten’s negative representation of the department. Wooten’s abuse of his authority and position in various instances. His racist attitudes towards native Alaskans (Todd Palin is a native Alaskan…), abuse of state resources (free gas/credit), illegal hunting activities, and Sarah’s daughter (Bristol) being a witness to Wooten’s tasering of his 11 year old stepson (verified)
SUMMARY: Todd also confirms Wooten’s disparaging remarks about Alaskan natives, his consistent abuse of authority and position, plus his hunting violations. Bartender confirms Wooten involving himself in bar fight, misusing his position as a trooper. Also bartender confirms Wooten with “girlfriend” at the bar, who was later arrested for DUI.
This is no means a complete picture of all that happened… but enough to give you a picture of an “out of control” trooper.
The investigations against Wooten started more than a year before she was elected governor, and about two months before launching her campaign”.
11-2006: Palin elected Governor of Alaska
3-1-06: Col. Julia Grimes findings on Wooten investigation results in suspension…. for only *five* days.
What we can derive from the timeline is that the investigations and complaints against Wooten as a State Trooper (not to mention with problems exhibiting a derelict father who tasers his step son, and is a physically and verbally abusive, unfaithful husband per the transcripts and testimony) had started prior to Palin’s term as Governor.
We can also determine that this is a man who most certainly does not need to be a trooper, armed with a badge and gun. And, if not in rural Alaska, Wooten is a law official who would have been run out of most departments as a seriously troubled man with violent tendencies.
Per Col. Julia Grimes in the Fairbanks Newsminer on July 28, 2008… and showing how long this “scandal” has dragged out…
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,” Col. Julia Grimes, then head of Alaska State Troopers, wrote in March 1, 2006, letter suspending Wooten for 10 days. After the union protested it, the suspension was reduced to five days.
She warned that if he messed up again, he’d be fired.
Where’s the “abuse of power” scandal?
Now that we know who Wooten is, and the story of the Palin relationship, PLUS the documented timeline in mind, let’s look at commenter markg8’s evidence (the video below) of a local Alaskan TV station on the “scandal”, as posted johnny-on-the-spot by leftist Obama supporter, Josh Marshall’s TalkingPointsMemo.
First, the video accusation is that the Governor’s office has questionable reasons (meaning removing Wooten from the AST) for firing Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan in July 2008. As we know, documented complaints from Palin about Wooten started prior to Monegan’s appointment… which Monegan may, or may not have been aware.
Yet Monegan was appointed by Palin. She is certainly within her rights to fire him. And if complaints were already lodged about Wooten to the immediate superior, Col. Julia Grimes, why did she need to pressure him to fire Wooten? Afterall, if Palin was going to “abuse” her power to get Wooten fired, why not direct that power over Grimes as the superior of the Troopers?
And if getting Wooten fired was her quest, why did she not take steps to do that in 2005 during the complaint period, instead of specifically stating under deposition she was staying silent in order not to put his job at risk? Not to mention the gap in time… why would it take her
two one and a half years to fire Monegan because of Wooten?
Monegan’s “truth” problem
According to Monegan, he insists he was pressured by Todd Palin,“numerous times to talk about Wooten as well as Frank Bailey from the governor’s office and Commissioner of Administration Annete Krietzer who also pressured him to fire Wooten”.
If trooper recruitment and poor morale was one of Palin’s concern about Monegan’s performance, why would her husband Todd be doing the talking for Palin? And why would Palin send her husband… sans gubernatorial power… to convince Monegan to fire Wooten?
But the problem with Monegan’s charge is.… Todd Palin was *ordered* to talk to Monegan since Wooten was a potential threat against Alaska’s first family.
2. Todd Palin was ORDERED by the head of the Governor’s security detail, Special Agent Bob Cockrell, to discuss Trooper Wooten with Walt Monegan, as Wooten presented a credible threat to the Governor’s safety. Here’s a direct quote from Special Agent Cockrell, who is now providing security for his sixth consecutive governor:
“When made aware of the security concerns regarding a state trooper, I instructed the First Gentleman to contact the commissioner of Public Safety. It is standard protocol to ask every governor about any threats they perceive or have realized. “I will not hesitate to set the record straight in answering these false allegations by former Commissioner Monegan.” (emphasis added)
Monegan also states others “around Palin” also applied pressure… but not Palin herself.
But Monegan says pressure came from those around Palin, including former Palin chief-of-staff Mike Tibbles, Department of Administration Commissioner Annette Kreitzer, and director of boards and commissions Frank Bailey.
Tibbles, who is now the campaign manager for Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, said Friday he couldn’t comment on whether he spoke to Monegan about Wooten.
Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said Bailey never had such a conversation with Monegan.
Kreitzer could not recall, Leighow said.
Problem is, Palin directed none of these people to intercede her her behalf… either personally, or professionally. In fact, until someone presented her with the phone transcript of Bailey’s call, she had no idea these events had occurred… putting her in a more embarrassing position.
Frank Bailey, the boards and commissions director, told The Associated Press he acted on his own — and not on behalf of Palin or her husband, Todd — when he called Ketchikan-based Lt. Rodney Dial, pushing for the firing of Trooper Mike Wooten.
“There was never any direction by the governor, never any direction by Todd to make the call or to make any call to DPS on this stuff,” Bailey said.
In the recorded conversation, Bailey is heard telling Dial: “Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, why on earth hasn’t, why is this guy still representing the department? He’s a horrible recruiting tool. … You know, I mean from their perspective, everyone’s protecting him.”
Palin said she heard the conversation for the first time on Tuesday when she returned to Anchorage from state business in Fairbanks. She said it was unclear why the recorded conversation only recently surfaced.
“It’s embarrassing for me to disclose at this time a conversation has occurred, again unbeknownst to me,” she said at a hastily arranged news conference at her Anchorage office.
In another instance that questions Monegan’s honesty, he and Gov. Palin had met over two dozen times—yet he says they only met four times. Since he has only alluded to, but not directly accused Palin of, pressuring him to fire Wooten, is he suggesting Wooten was the subject of the meetings (of which there should be some sort of official records… which there are none)? Or were these meetings about his performance?
Clearly Monegan is not being truthful about the amount of times he met with Gov. Sarah Palin, when confirmed with Government office records. What can we believe about the subject of his meetings?
Monegan fired for budget, recruiting and enforcement performance
Disagreements between Monegan and Palin over a budget cut in the troopers, department morale and recruiting, and bootlegging enforcement are documented by Andrew Halcro. (As I mentioned earlier, but it bears repeating…. Halcro also happens to be the losing
primary GOP[Correction: Independent] candidate in the 2006 gubernatorial candidate, and is the source of the complaints against Palin.)
The political plot thickens…
Palin, giving more specifics later in the process than she should have, confirms her reasons for firing Monegan in that position, but offering him another in the department which she felt he was better suited for.
Palin has been under heavy criticism since firing former Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. However, she also disclosed three reasons why she fired Monegan (I listened to the press conference in part on KFQD and specifically took down this information).
– He was not making headway on achieving key goals such as resolving the trooper shortfall.
– He was not making satisfactory progress on resolving alcohol issues.
– He was not a team player in regards to budget issues.
But recognizing his previous experience in dealing with alcohol issues, particularly in Bush Alaska, Governor Palin did not want to remove Monegan from the administration altogether, but to place him in charge of the Alcoholic Beverage Control board, where he could combine his rural expertise with a full-time focus on alcohol issues. Nevertheless, Monegan elected not to accept the post, and left the administration instead. Monegan continues to maintain he was pressured by Palin’s family and the administration to fire Trooper Wooten.
Alaskan Pride is no Palin fan for the Veep job, BTW. Also, there are links to “white nationalists” website links there. Frankly, just the sound of that gives me the creeps… But I figured hey… anti-Palin. Oddly enough, even he doesn’t deem Palin as corrupt, but naïve:
Sarah Palin could have saved herself a lot of grief if she had simply told us why she canned Walt Monegan last month instead of serving up some New Age Oprah-style drivel about “new energy” and “new direction”. There seems to be a disturbing aura of New Age influence within the Palin Administration.
So if Monegan and Palin disagreed on the budget, recruiting and enforcement (most over budget), and she was within her gubernatorial rights to replace him, just where does the scandal come into play?
It doesn’t… not that facts ever stop rumors or investigations in the political world. What we have here is the playing out of complaints instigated by a disgruntled loser’s political witch hunt. Fact is, if Palin wanted to do a gubernatorial power play, she could apply that to Grimes. However she had other grievances with Monegan.
Palin welcomes an investigation into the firing of Walt Monegan. Yet even that has some nepotism involved. The appointed prosecutor, Steve Branchflower, apparently has a very close relationship with Monegan.
Branchflower, who served as an Assistant District Attorney in Anchorage from 1974-1998, held numerous positions which required him to work extremely closely with the Anchorage Police Department, where Walt Monegan would become chief in 2001. He provided legal advice to APD officers, trained APD officers, and was even a co-founder of the APD’s Homicide Response Team. His wife also worked as a detective for the APD, not retiring until 2002, meaning that she worked under Walt Monegan. In short, it seems impossible to believe that Branchflower, whose entire career was wrapped up in his relationships with the APD, and his detective wife did not have at least some professional relationship with Walt Monegan, who was obviously one of the city’s top cops. Mrs. Branchflower also briefly came out of retirement to work as a cold case detective for the Alaska State Troopers.
So when you read of Palin also launching an independent investigation, you might consider having another investigator’s input is not such a bad idea in light of the personal ties between Branchflower and Monegan.
Palin replaced Monegan with Charles Kopp…who ended up resigning after two weeks under intense political scrutiny for an old (and removed from the books the previous year) sexual harassment charge. No doubt, that that will be the next attempted scandal… Either that, or it’s one jinxed position.
Now John Glass in is the Public Safety Commissioner seat…. Will the Alaskan local powers and the Obama camp make an issue of that? Only time will tell.