Trooper’gate: Beating MSM distortions to the truth.
We learn much from Sarah Palin’s “Ethics Disclosure Form”, filed Sept 1st by her Anchorage attorney, Thomas Van Flein. But before I go into details on her story of Trooper’gate, let’s address the latest leftist smears perpetuated by Talking Points Memo, and some of his merry band of gullible followers … dutifully falling in line here on Flopping Aces.
The goal? Spam the internet with with the lies so that the faith in Palin will be shaken enough that the truth – when it finally surfaces – will no longer matter. It will merely be a page A-23 one line correction… damage done.
That spam of lies happens to be that Palin is refusing to testify. Per TPM mudracker-in-chief, Josh Marshall:
It didn’t take long. We’ve already brought you news of the official investigation into Gov. Palin’s firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Steve Branchflower, the lead investigator, began trying to arrange a deposition of the governor days before her veep selection. And despite claiming executive privilege to shield requested emails, up until that point Palin had promised full cooperation with the probe.
Now, however, she is refusing to submit to questioning by Branchflower unless he and the legislative committee that appointed him agree to relinquish control of the investigation and turn it over to a state review board made up of three Palin appointees.
In one of those yellow journalism scandal headlines, “Palin Wants Independent Trooper-Gate Probe Called Off”, TMP goes on to mischaracterize the legal process for the Trooper’gate investigation.
In the latest sign that Sarah Palin’s promised cooperation with the Trooper-Gate investigation is failing to materialize, her lawyer is now demanding that the entire case be taken out of the hands of the independent prosecutor hired by Alaska lawmakers, and given over to a state personnel board — whose three members were appointed by the governor herself.
In an unusual “ethics disclosure” filed last night, along with related documents, to the state Attorney General, Palin’s lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, asked the personnel board to look into the firing of Walt Monegan, the former public safety commissioner at the center of the case. Van Flein also asked the legislature to drop its own investigation, contending that only the personnel board has jurisdiction over ethics. And he suggested that if the legislature didn’t agree to hand the matter over to the personnel board, Palin would not be made available for a deposition.
“Unusual” ethics disclosure?? It is part of procedural law. Perhaps it’s “unusual” in that it’s not common to have these ethics investigations. Especially since Governor Palin has made it her prime business to end corruption by cleaning house. But Marshall is disingenous to suggest this is some unique and questionable approach to Alaskan law governing ethics violations.
I, personally, don’t see anything wrong with following Alaskan law, pursuant to AS 39.52.210(a), for for jurisdiction in the investigation. This statute states that a public employee, when faced with what “may” (remember that innocent until guilty bit?) be faced with charges that they violated Alaska’s ethics laws are required to disclose the matter, in writing, to the AG.
And under that same Title section, AS 39.52.310(c), legal jurisdiction for the investigations are mandated to a personnel board to oversee the proceedings. This is, to quote the attorney’s brief, “the only body in Alaska with the legal authority to do so.”
Naturally, this legal mandate is rather inconvenient for Branchwater, and Alaskan Dem legislator in charge of the investigation, Sen. Hollis French. Branchwater is the independent prosecutor hired by the Alaska legislators (via French), despite his questionably close relationship to the “victim” in the investigation, Walt Monegan.
But legal procedure is legal procedure.
Sen. French vows to proceed anyway… damned be those pesky laws, I guess. Palin’s attorney has said if they do, since they are not following proper procedure, Palin will not be available for deposition.
However leave it to the desperate left, scared out of their undersized willies at the appearance of the dynamic Alaskan governor on the election scene, to spin it as a “dodge” by Palin.
To the contrary, Palin is quite willing to cooperate in legal procedure – using the proper jurisdiction – for the ethics complaint. The current three person board are all appointees by Palin’s predecessor, Murkowski. One, however, Debra English, was re’appointed by Palin.
Per Alaskan law, the personnel board has the choice of the independent counsel retained, acting in place of the AG in the investigation. They may well choose Branchwater… or not. However the legislature has no authority to foist Branchwater onto the board as the counsel.
AND… Palin is on record in her Ethics Disclosure that she has no position on who the personnel board chooses as a prosecutor.
This puts to rest the “refusing to testify” charges. That may be a half-truth for those that aren’t sure what “the meaning of is… is”. But what is factual is Palin will refuse to be deposed in a proceeding with no legal jurisdiction. And who could blame her?
However truth matters not to the leftists scandal-mongers. Their goal is to blanket the internet with lies and half truths. If they can put the question into the minds of the voters hard and fast enough before the truth comes out, the damage will be done.
But the truth is, it is Palin who wants to follow Alaskan law in this investigation, and the legislators and their complainants who want to blaze their own path for the procedures in an all out vendetta.
Now, to the more interesting parts of the “Ethics Disclosure” brief. I’ll summarize, but there is no excuse for those seeking truth to read the 13 page disclosure in it’s entirety at the link above.
The brief starts out with a shocking truth, and repeated elsewhere in the brief:
“For the record, no one ever said fire Wooten. Not the governor. Not Todd. Not any of the other staff….”
former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan
Anchorage Daily News, Aug 30, 2008
To pull the entire Monegan quote from ADN story mentioned in the brief above:
For the record, no one ever said fire Wooten. Not the governor. Not Todd. Not any of the other staff,” Monegan said Friday from Portland. “What they said directly was more along the lines of ‘This isn’t a person that we would want to be representing our state troopers.’ “
To express an opinion of a Trooper on a short leash by superiors because of a history of exhibiting “a serious and concentrated pattern of unacceptable, and at times, illegal activity”* is a far cry from “pressure” to fire the trooper. In fact, personal issues aside, Palin has long opposed government corruption, and most especially troopers and legislators who feel they are above the law.
* quoted from Col. Julia Grimes investigation of Mike Wooten, and reproduced in the Ethics Disclosure brief
Ironic that the entire investigation is based on supposedly an abuse of power by applying pressure on Monegan to fire Wooten – and all brought to bear publicly and officially by his personal cheerleader, Andrew Halcro. One would think this statement alone should make the entire endeavor just a waste of time and money. But we have more interesting tidbits under the disclosure subheadings which may explain why they are so willing to waste time and money….
As I mentioned, the man driving the accusations, leading to the investigation, is Andrew Halcro – the former “also ran” gubernatorial candidate against Palin on the Indy party. What is even more interesting is that Halcro revealed to the press that his source of information is none other than Mike Wooten himself. Also, according to the Disclosure, Halcro was less than pleased that he wasn’t offered a position in the Palin administration.
Either way, people are reading. Halcro, who lost to Palin when he ran as an independent in the 2006 election for governor, said visits to andrewhalcro.com exploded starting about a month ago. That’s when he first detailed the feud between the Palin family and an Alaska State Trooper that’s now part of an investigation of the governor and her staff.
“I think it’s fair to say he got the ball rolling, at least on this issue,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Hollis French, D-Anchorage.~~~
Palin fired former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan on July 11.
Less than a week later, Halcro — who had been blogging nonstop at the time about Palin’s gas pipeline legislation — said he got a phone call suggesting he talk to Trooper Mike Wooten, the governor’s ex-brother-in-law.
Halcro and the trooper met at the Sheraton hotel bar for three and a half hours, he said. At 1 a.m. the next morning, Halcro posted a blog item titled “Why Walt Monegan got fired: Palin’s abuse of power” that described Palin and Monegan disagreeing over the public safety budget before detailing a list of complaints the Palin family made against Wooten.
Halcro won’t say who gave him Wooten’s cell phone number.
The motive for vengence grows…. and Halcro has clearly chosen the more questionable moral character for his side of the argument.
And it also comes out that the Palin family did not learn until just recently about the scant discipline Wooten received. Monegan never informed them.
Bailey is on record, under oath, that he acted on his own initiative, and did not apply pressure to fire Wooten. Period. Subject closed. My opinion? Don’t like his testimony under oath? Prove him wrong, and charge him with perjury. Oh, right… not many get charged with perjury anymore. Most especially high level public officials.
And BTW, Palin put him on administrative leave for acting without authority.
If Walt Monegan believes there is a violation of Alaska’s ethics laws, he is required to file an Ethics Disclosure, just as Sarah Palin has done. He has not done so.
In fact, again from an Anchorage Daily News article on July 22, 2008, Monegan specifically stated to KUDO that he “was not accusing the governor of anything”. But he was curious as to why he was fired.
The direct quote from the ADN article is:
On the KUDO show, Monegan said: “Am I accusing the governor of anything? … No. I think the biggest thing that keeps me up at night is why.”
Which again brings us to the reasons Palin did fire Monegan, as laid out in her Ethics Disclosure.
Walt Monegan was the former chief of police in Anchorage. He had been terminated from his job by Mayor Mark Begich in 2006.~~~
When Governor Palin took office later in 2006, she appointed Monegan to be the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.
Over the course of eighteen months, Monegan took actions and positions that contradicted Governor Palin’s beliefs that taxpayers are entitled to efficient and cost-effective government. These were good-faith disagreements about appropriate government policy, and the governor and others in her administration saw it that way.
You can continue reading about her disapproval of Monegan’s performance at the PDF linked above.
This is an investigation based on a complaint by third parties. Monegan – the supposed victim – has not filed a formal complaint in the form of an Ethics Disclosure. He has repeatedly stated no one pressured him to fire Wooten.
This is, in essence, an accusation without a victim… and brought about by those with personal reasons to stir the Governor’s pot. Disgruntled election losers, and Alaskan legislators finding their honey pots of corruption been encroached on by a tough governor who cares nothing about party affiliation.
Wooten – the disgraced trooper – is the source for Halcro, the man driving the charges. The legislature is determined to ignore ethic law procedures, and run a witch hunt that is outside their legal jurisdiction.
This is a non-story. Instead the real story is the mudrackers trying to trash the GOP veep. And why? She presents some serious competition to the DNC ticket.
Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.