Palin comparison, IV: Troopergate

This is another in our Daily Dose of Sarah Palin, because even if John McCain didn't think it was that important to learn a lot about the person who might be the next President should some medical event befall the 72 year old cancer survivor should he be elected, most people want more information. Previous installments here. Today it's Troopergate.

Governor Palin has a nasty problem Alaskans call Troopergate. It is under investigation by a bipartisan commission of the Alaskan legislature about whether she abused her power. Palin has reportedly lawyered up. The story is the kind of messy and acrimonious tale one finds frequently in divorce and custody battles, but since this one involves a sitting Governor who is alleged to have used her position to punish one of the parties and that Governor is now a candidate for Vice President of the United States, its routine nastiness has been elevated to a new level, especially as Palin is being painted as a reform good government advocate. Maybe more to the point, interfering calls from the Vice President's Office are a recurring theme of the Cheney Vice Presidency and this aspirant is exhibiting the same egregious standard operating procedures.

I looked around for the best summary I could find and finally settled on this one from the Alaskan-based mudflats blog. The blogger is a partisian, but as far as I can see this is a bare bones account of the allegations and defenses. At any rate, it's a backgrounder. Here it is for your delectation (or not):

Sarah Palin's sister Molly married a guy named Mike Wooten who is an Alaska State Trooper. Mike and Molly had a rocky marriage. When the marriage broke up, there was a bitter custody fight that is still ongoing. During the custody investigation, all sorts of things were brought up about Wooten including the fact that he had illegally shot a moose (yes folks this is Alaska), driven drunk, and used a taser (on the test setting, he reminds us) on his 11-year old stepson, who supposedly had asked to see what it felt like. While Wooten has turned out to be a less than stellar figure, the fact that Palin's father accompanied him on the infamous moose hunt, and that many of the dozens of charges brought up by the Palin family happened long before they were ever reported smacked of desperate custody fight. Wooten's story is that he was basically stalked by the family.

After all this, Wooten was investigated and disciplined on two counts and allowed to kept his position with the troopers. Enter Walt Monegan, Palin's appointed new chief of the Department of Public Safety and head of the troopers. Monegan was beloved by the troopers, did a bang-up job with minimal funding and suddenly got axed. Palin was out of town and Monegan got "offered another job" (aka fired) with no explanation to Alaskans. Pressure was put on the governor to give details, because rumors started to swirl around the fact that the highly respected Monegan was fired because he refused to fire the aforementioned Mike Wooten. Palin vehemently denied ever talking to Monegan or pressuring Monegan in any way to fire Wooten, or that anyone on her staff did. Over the weeks it has come out that not only was pressure applied, there were literally dozens of conversations in which pressure was applied to fire him. Monegan has testified to this fact, spurring an ongoing investigation by the Alaska state legislature. But, before this investigation got underway, Palin sent the Alaska State Attorney General out to do some investigative work of his own so she could find out in advance what the real investigation was going to find. (No, I'm not making this up). The AG interviewed several people, unbeknownst to the actual appointed investigator or the Legislature! Palin's investigation of herself uncovered a recorded phone call retained by the Alaska State Troopers from Frank Bailey, a Palin underling, putting pressure on a trooper about the Wooten non-firing. Todd Palin (governor's husband) even talked to Monegan himself in Palin's office while she was away. Bailey is now on paid administrative leave.

As if this weren't enough, Monegan's appointed replacement Chuck Kopp, turns out to have been the center of his own little scandal. He received a letter of reprimand and was reassigned after sexual harassment allegations by a former coworker who didn't like all the unwanted kissing and hugging in the office. Was he vetted? Obviously not. When he was questioned about all this, his comment was that no one had asked him and he thought they all knew. Kopp, defiant, still claimed to have done nothing wrong and said to the press that there was no way he was stepping down from his new position. Twenty four hours later, he stepped down. Later it was uncovered that he received a $10,000 severance package for his two weeks on the job from Palin. Monegan got nothing.

After extensive news coverage about all this nasty behind-the-scenes scandal, which is definitely NOT squeaky clean, Palin's approval ratings fell to 67%, still high, but a far cry from the 90% number that's being thrown around so glibly by the Republicans today. Alaskans are quickly becoming disillusioned once again. (mudflats)

Palin's camp has been putting out the story that the brother-in-law stalked them and threatened her family and that the trooper had a DUI (I seem to remember so did GWB). Worse yet he had tasered the step son. As you can see, those things may be the truth but not the whole truth, although this explanation was apparently sufficient for the McCain vetting team.

For those who don't know where the word "vetting" comes from, it is a race horse term related to the veterinarian's certification a horse is cleared to race. How perfectly appropriate in this setting. Vetting is expensive and time consuming, so fiscal conservatives are always looking for ways to save money:

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Actually, I suspect strongly that the guy is a lout and deserved to be fired. Has been married five times. I suspect he's an alcoholic. It amazes me that women get sucked into getting involved with people like that.

That being said, it is clear that Palin lied. As often happens it is going to be tha cover-up that causes the the biggest problem.

By the way, I'm not buying this as a bipartisan thing. The Demos conrol the legislature and will undoubtedly control the agenda of the investigation. Besides, the timing of this thing stinks. A big hearing the day of her speech? An investigation that ends FOUR days before the election? Coincidence? I think not.

Far more important to me is what kind of mind she has. How deep is her understanding of this world we live in? I suspect it isn't too deep. The GSM forbid that she could be less prepared to be President than George Bush was.

I like Gov. Palin. She is smart and sassy. The Republicans are lucky to have someone like her on their ticket.

We all know how evil divorce and especially custody battles can become. Little things are often inflated well beyond reality.

My guess is TPTB will postpone any decision on this until after the November election.

What is really interesting about the addition of Gov. Palin to the ticket is that it has narrowed the race. At the moment, it appears to be pretty even in the national polls.

For the first time in a long time we have two pretty interesting choices to lead the U.S. Whoever is elected will change the current dismal course of our country probably for the better. Each contender has his and her pluses and minuses.

Electing a new and different president is a lot like getting married. You really don't have a clear view of what it will be like living in the country governed by the new president for quit some time after they take office.

For this reason, it is important for the electorate to make the best choice they can based on what they can understand about the choices they have.

By The Doctor (not verified) on 05 Sep 2008 #permalink

There seems to be some confusion about the 2008 presidential race in the preceding posts. Governor Palin is not in the presidential race (that's John McCain). She is running as the vice president for the Republican party, despite admitting a lack of understanding about what, exactly, the VP does in office.

"smart and sassy"? What part of harridan don't you see? "Her" speech (written by Bush's speechwriter--why do we accept such outright plagiarism by our politicians?) was filled with lies, innuendo, and personal attack, all packaged as little jokey soundbites--THAT's what you want in a politician? Well I guess in this country the standard has become American Idol, or People magazine, for which she's perfect.

Yeah, Palin can deliver a speech that she didn't even write, a speech filled with nothing of substance. Sure she can denigrate Senators as a group as being unfit for the Presidency (does she even know what McCain's day job is?) but how does her "experience" in foreign policy compare with Obama's time in Senate Foreign Relations Committee? Gee, I wonder why she refuses to be interviewed too--maybe because she doesn't want her striking ignorance of so many things to be on view for the whole world to see?

Nice too that when queried earlier about the VP slot, her first response was "what's in it for Alaskans?" and her longstanding relationship with the Alaskan Independence Party that would have Alaska secede from the Union--unbelievable that anyone takes her seriously. Add in the charges of abuse of power, always a bonus in highly placed least if you're a Republican, I guess.

She endangered her last baby so it could be born in Alaska, her husband didn't want a Texan in the family (even though she is not native to Alaska).
She lied about that bridge, that plane sale, has flip flopped on this trooper gate thing, and has some other nasty skeletons like her town's $20M debt in that closet of hers.
Now we are being told she ISN'T ready to be VP so they need to hole her up in Alaska for some tutoring. No live interviews, no weekend talk shows, no media coverage except the palsy stuff from her home state.
She isn't smart, she barely graduated from the last (of 5 or 6) colleges she went to. She isn't sassy, she's rude and crass.
I am a little older than her, a definite independent, and wouldn't vote for her if she was the ONLY candidate on the whole ticket. She is the direct opposite of what I want and NEED in a leader. I want a curious, intelligent, nonvengeful, THINKING humane person as a leader. Someone who cares more about the whole of America, not just their tiny slice of it.

By Gin INdiana (not verified) on 06 Sep 2008 #permalink

G-This is about as accurate as it can get about the Gravina Bridge. The state was going to pony a helluva lot of money and the bridge itself and its design was called into question by many engineers. But even with all of the quieting of the engineers the costs were astronomical. On one hand they could run ferry's but on the other there was the time consideration.

The area.... Note the roadway to the right about 30 miles.... Railroad was to the left of that and would have cut transit times from Japan to Canada. Create jobs for both Canucks and USA. Thats likely the reason Palin supported it. The other long term idea was that the island would serve as a deep water port and allow materials to go tri-modal out of Alaska into the US via Canada. The Canadian Pacific was going to assist in a lot of the development.…

Congress voted the money, then they tried to renege on the deal and pull it back to pay for Katrina. The idea that taking money from Alaska for another state that had already been voted on was a BAD political move Thats when the flap started. Thats a lot of potatoes and yes, I agree and raised hell with my Senators about the spending for a bridge to serve 329 or so Alaskans. It was a huge bridge project. Ridiculous in fact. They could ride the ferry for 30 minutes to the shoreline. But in the same breath even if they federally funded the ferry for the next 30 years, it wouldnt have cost 329 million bucks. If you have ever been on an ice covered bridge in Indiana its nothing compared to one in Alaska. Even deicing fluid freezes......So Palin flopped on it in lieu of using the allotted money on something else.

But, Congress decided it wasnt a good idea to pull the money and THE CONGRESS left it up to the state what to do with the money that they did get. There wasnt enough to build a bridge and they needed a pot load of money for other uses. Still dont know what the money was used for but it was a Transportation Dept. allocation so it was used on roads and other bridges in all likelihood.

To be honest with you the roads in Alaska are at best very dicey. They have a terrible time maintaining them and if they used the money for that, then fine by me.

But the assertion here is really more as to whether the Chief Administrative Officer of the State of Alaska is better suited to lead than Barack Obama and that she is inexperienced as a Governor. Uh-huh. FDR was a governor, Jimmy Carter was a governor, Andrew Jackson was a governor, Reagan was a governor, Thomas Jefferson was a governor etc.

And now a woman governor is up for Veep. So she isnt prepared to be the second in command? Barack Obama has about 179 days as Senator... and he did what before that?

As for Troopergate, I really dont think that this is anything more than a showing of the door to a real jerk with a badge. Tasering a kid? The assertion was that the guy was that pressure was brought to bear by the governor directly... I dont think so. All persons in an administration in an appointed position serve at the behest of the CAO. Originally the assertion was that he had to go because he divorced her sister. It wasnt him divorcing her, the other way around.

I wonder that if the media had done this much investigating on Bill Clinton if he would have been President? I doubt it. They tell us what they want us to know. Its People magazine on the air. Whatever is the raciest thing that they can come up with is what is used.

Seems they did that to another woman....Lady Diana. We saw the results of that too.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 06 Sep 2008 #permalink

There's one teensy tiny little omission here, which is pretty damning, and that is the official opinion of the head of Wooten's agency regarding his (mis)conduct. That eminence would be Col. Julia Grimes, head of the Alaska State Troopers. What was it that she said?

"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."

In other words, this guy was an alcoholic, abusive cop who drove under the influence in his official vehicle, and threatened to "put a bullet in the f___'n head" of anyone who helped his wife retain the counsel of a divorce attorney, this while wearing his uniform and his service sidearm.

Where I live, and in virtually all other reputable jurisdictions, the police chief would have fired this man so fast and so hard that he would have been the first human to enter orbit without a space vehicle. And thank goodness for that.

It's touching to see the Reveres so solicitous about protecting the bent cops of the world. Brings a tear to my eye, it does.


marquer: There seems to be somewhat of a difference of opinion whether all of the stories about the brother in law are true or just the usual spin of a divorce case, but if what you say were true then he loses his job via the usual mechanisms. He didn't. So the Gov thought she'd take matters into her own hands with a couple of calls from her office to intimidate hs superiors. This is practice for "the Vice President's Office is on the phone," so she'll be "ready on Day One" to take over for Cheney. You may be right that this guy is a shit and doesn't deserve to be a state trooper. There is an investigation by a bipartisan legislative commission going on now (which Palin now will not cooperate with despite previous pledges to do so), so we'll see. Maybe where you live they don't have procedures and the police chief can do whatever he or she wants whenever he or she wants to. I don't live in that kind of city. And thank goodness for that.

My point was different, however. It isn't about the trooper but about what this says about Palin and what kind of VP she would be. It appears from this evidence she'd be one just like Cheney but instead of a neocon a religious right con.

If this trooper is such a disaster, and is so obviously incompetent and obviously unacceptable, why is the employment system of the troopers in Alaska unable to deal with it appropriately?

That is the real problem, that the system is unable to deal with out of control abusive individuals in authority.

The "solution" to the problem of an inability to deal with abusive individuals in authority is not to install still more powerful and more abusive individuals who (one hopes) will exert their abuse only on those who "deserve it".

Of course when the system is run by out of control abusive individuals in authority, they can only see the "problem" as simply one where they individually do not have enough power and authority to do what is "needed". So they seek to acquire more power, that power corrupts, they become more abusive and authoritarian until someone needs to deal with them.

If they can amass enough power to thwart being dealt with, you end up with something like Zimbabwe.

Deadie is close to it.

The State Troopers are the law in Alaska. The jurisdictions run out just so far in the towns and villages so the head of the state police actually runs a lot of the show there.

Now the ex if he was written up 3 times in a year is already on his way out in most cases and most jobs. Getting caught DUI in a police car is an automitic. But it also means you have the worst thing in the world and thats a guy with a badge and a agenda all while loaded up on booze and pills. .

The question is whether the State Senate will find something to go after her on, but I doubt it. There is way too much insulation and so little to go on. Pure hearsay on so many parts. If she implied that the guy should fire her ex brother in law then thats one thing. If she said fire him or else then thats another, UNLESS the DUI is confirmed and/or the three strikes rule is in force. And unless the appointments are done as a matter of course.. That means that the CAO of many states can directly fire anyone on their own initiative at any time. I know they can here and have done so and while its not "right", it is legal.

My bet.... She will win this one.

And that would be to the dismay of the Reveres'.

Funny to me is that obviously Moses would have been a conservative, and Revere would have been standing with the rest of the Hebrew people waiting for the sea to part. Then Moses would have raised his staff, the water parts and everyone hauled butt and made it to the other side. Then he would have complained that the water was still a bit to high and his feet got wet.

So far Revere all I have heard from you guys about SP is negativity and that is troubling. I am from the group in this country that puts the USA first, everyone else second and second in this book means our allies. Net zero and zero sum to our enemies. The most disturbing thing I have seen is that the media is absolutely set on electing Obama and without any reprimand from you or others. We should be electing the most qualified to the Presidency and you have studiously forgotten all the issues relating to Obama and his Veep choice. I want to know about his drug use, his arrests, his community organizing... Hell ole son, J. Jackson wants to do him the old way and that is to cut it out from end to end. Thats a reference to the slavery days where they would rather than castration, go up and deep. The slave generally died. But what would make Jackson so mad at him to say that to anyone, much less the candidate of the Liberal Democrat party of the US? Must have been something really good? I would want you to delve into that more deeply if you arent biased.

So if you dont, does this mean that all we can expect from you is one sided bias towards McCain who was getting the living shit kicked out of him repeatedly for days on end, year after year? This is in lieu of a kid who wouldnt know which end of a rifle pick up, but we know which end of a crack pipe he picks up.

But that would be an issue wouldnt it?

You are always quick to pipe up (pun intended) about GWB who drank for years...and then apparently stopped after his wife said she was outta there if he didnt. I just dont get the constant harangue of the Republicans. I cant recall ANY posts where you whacked up a lib, a Democrat, or a libertarian.... So what is this?

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 07 Sep 2008 #permalink

Randy: Everyone else seems to know that this Muslim thing is a racist smear but you. It also appears to say you think that if he had another religion or no religion it would disqualify him from office. Is that what you are saying by repeating and apparently even believing what is an irrelevant falsehood (irrelevant except for exploiting the worst impulses of the American voter)?

Revere....its not a Muslim smear unless its troopergate for Palin.

As for his religion nope, if he was a Muslim I would judge his electables on that and many other things. It would be based on the one thing with that and not his religion. It would be whether he was moving to a higher calling...Kind of like the religious right and their agenda. Bottom line, could I trust him? My answer right now is no. Kind of the way you feel about McCain/Palin for ?????

If McCain or Palin were Muslims I might also vote for them too. You by now know that this election is a full on typical government test.... Pick the best worst answer.

BTW, I am not exploiting anything. He said it, I didnt and when he was corrected he blew it again. I watched this and my mouth fell open when he said it. He was fully flabbergasted and flustered He said that the Republicans were out to smear him by saying....I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith." And thats when he let the word Muslim.

Nope, this is Obamas troopergate and now more questions are going to have to be answered. I personally doubt that he is going to be able to prove that he is a citizen and the only way he can is to produce to the pundits a valid from the Bureau of Vital Statistics, birth certificate. But he wont release that and only now under court order will he do it. He will be compelled to do so soon.

Yet another question.

Being Muslim isnt a racist smear by me. It would be a religious smear by you for saying that. But you dont care about religion one way or another. Why would you get so upset? If he is a Muslim, then by definition you shouldnt vote for him because either or, he believes in God. You know, like me.

Read those comments at the trailer of that story Revere.... I am not alone about my questions about Barack. The media will have to start vetting him a little better before anyone down here is going to vote for him.

And its just getting started.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 07 Sep 2008 #permalink

Randy: I care for the reason I said. You seem to be equating the Troopergate problem -- upon which the court has yet to speak, using your favorite excuse -- to a deliberate falsehood spread to make Obama unpalatable to those who are afraid of Muslims. That's the issue. He isn't a Muslim. Everyone knows that. Even you know that. This is no different than the Bush campaign spreading the rumor that McCain had an illegitimate black child in 2000. Maybe you and I don't care if he did or didn't but the rumor was spread to smear him. I don't pay attention to comments in the Washington Times. It's a Moony whacko nutcase paper and that's who reads it. Bad enough WaPo and NYT are right of center papers. That one is so far right you can't even see them when standing dead right center, much less where I'm standing.

Troopergate shows Palin to be Cheney, as I said. A bully who will abuse her power if she gets a chance. Since you are an airplane guy, tell us how much profit she made when she "sold" Alaska's "luxury jet" on eBay. I know she sold it on eBay because Honest John McCain said so and I know she made a profit because Honest John said so. The problem is, you and I know different. Don't we.

I'll stipulate that Obama has two black children.

I wouldnt say his isnt a Muslim Revere.... Thats where your premise and mine starts. With me though it starts with many things. The guy has more questions around him than a murder investigation with someone who supported the Clintons.

Those questions need to be answered NOW. I dont want the government embroiled in a constant quagmire of impeachments, elections by courts, and above all respect. I hold the Presidency of this country in the highest honor. I also expect McCain/Palin to be held in that same vein. They screw up, someone goes.

I for one cant see any benefit in Obama just answering the questions, completely, thoroughly and most important honestly. He gets on TV or in front of reporters and they start leading towards these things and he moves away from them and everyone can see it.

Palin has some issues and very few that get here wouldnt. I so far havent seen anything wrong. As CAO she can fire any employee with cause of the State. I would say buzzing around in a police car loaded up is a good reason. If he was my brother, I would have fired him and not because he was or wasnt married to Chelsea Clinton.

I want to know why he wasnt fired on the first incident or intimidation under color of badge. Federal felony for the latter.

I'll stipulate that I have two kind of off white ones of 1/8th Hebrew descent, running back to both Dutch and German roots. So you are implying what?

If the implication is that I am racist then you can forget that noise right now. I want those questions answered then I'll decide as many will whether he is even first legal to be in the Congress, then the Presidency second. Finally when we get those questions answered on the issues, I and others will decide whether he is qualified on his experience and those answers to the questions as to his ability to be the President.

WaPo and NYT right of center? Your center must start in your left pocket.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 08 Sep 2008 #permalink