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Tilting at Windmills

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September 11, 2008

PALIN'S 'GRAVE' TROOPER SCANDAL.... Granted, it has nothing to do with lipsticks and pigs, but the scandal surrounding Sarah Palin firing her public safety commissioner (a.k.a., "troopergate") continues to get more and more interesting.

The Wall Street Journal, for example, reports that an ethics adviser to Palin warned her about the seriousness of the governor's handling -- or, in this case, mishandling -- of the situation, and urged her to apologize for her conduct before it became a damaging scandal.

An informal adviser ... said, in a letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, that she should fire any aides who had raised concerns with the chief over a state trooper who was involved in a bitter divorce with the governor's sister.

In the letter, written before Sen. John McCain picked the Alaska governor as his running mate, former U.S. Attorney Wevley Shea warned Gov. Palin that "the situation is now grave" and recommended that she and her husband, Todd Palin, apologize for "overreaching or perceived overreaching" for using her position to try to get Trooper Mike Wooten fired from the force.

Newsweek reports that an Alaskan judge directly warned Palin about harassing her former brother in law.

Court records obtained by NEWSWEEK show that during the course of divorce hearings three years ago, Judge John Suddock heard testimony from an official of the Alaska State Troopers' union about how Sarah Palin -- then a private citizen -- and members of her family, including her father and daughter, lodged up to a dozen complaints against Wooten with the state police. The union official told the judge that he had never before been asked to appear as a divorce-case witness, that the union believed family complaints against Wooten were "not job-related," and that Wooten was being "harassed" by Palin and other family members.

Court documents show that Judge Suddock was disturbed by the alleged attacks by Palin and her family members on Wooten's behavior and character. "Disparaging will not be tolerated -- it is a form of child abuse," the judge told a settlement hearing in October 2005, according to typed notes of the proceedings. The judge added: "Relatives cannot disparage either. If occurs [sic] the parent needs to set boundaries for their relatives."

ABC News reports that women's groups in Alaska remain bothered by Palin's decisions, because the safety commissioner she fired for dubious reasons was a state leader in combating violence against women.

Advocates for abused women in Alaska have come to the defense of the state's former public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, abruptly fired by Governor Sarah Palin in July. [...] Women's groups say Monegan was one of the few state officials to take seriously the "epidemic" problem of violence against women and children in Alaska. [...]

In fact, Palin herself had nothing but praise for Monegan and his work on the issue at a conference earlier this year, just three months before she fired him, supposedly because he was not a team player on budget issues.

A tape obtained exclusively by ABC News shows Palin at a conference Apr. 28, where she acknowledges and even applauds Monegan.

And finally, TPM Muckraker compiles all of the available evidence into a single report, summarizing the scandal so far.

It certainly looks like the governor abused the powers of her office, fired a decorated state official for not firing a former family member, and has been lying about it every step of the way.

Steve Benen 2:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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Comments

train, meet wreck ...

Posted by: Tang on September 11, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

I know enough about Ms Sarah. So do you. Enough with these time wasting posts.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 11, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I think this piece on Palin's adviser contains a broader and more nationally relevant point than her merely ignoring his advice. Read this excerpt:

> After his initial letter in July, Mr. Shea followed up with another letter, dated Aug. 4, in which he told Gov. Palin that she probably couldn't legally shun a legislative investigation into the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

> Gov. Palin has taken the opposite tack, hiring a private attorney to advise in a matter that has become known as "Troopergate." Seven Palin administration employees have refused to meet with the independent investigator. The McCain-Palin campaign has argued that the state legislature has no right to look into the matter. Palin spokesmen say the state personnel board is the appropriate investigative body, setting up a showdown between the state's legislative and executive branches.

Doesn't that sound familiar? Personal vendettas, abuses of power, executive stonewalling, dismissal of the legislative branch (and the Constitution, and the people, and the truth).

This scandal originated with Sarah Palin and how she uses executive power, and now the McCain operatives have moved in and are running Palin's response EXACTLY the way the White House has been run for eight years. This is McCain/Palin: No shame, no accountability, NO CHANGE.

Posted by: pk on September 11, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Another dead end...
Where is that cheese?

Posted by: Orwell on September 11, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who has been confirmed as an abuser of office or power is surely also confirmed to be unAmerican! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 11, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

There's a notion going round that we shouldn't attack Palin, who is supposedly an empty pantsuit, and instead concentrate on McCain. I think this is wrong; it's Democrats thinking logically rather than seeing the election as the freakshow that it is.

Palin is the motor currently driving not only the McCain side, but the coverage of the campaign as a whole. Destroy her and the old, colorless McCain will dry up and blow away.

This year the road to the White House leads through Wasilla.

Posted by: jimBOB on September 11, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK


Ya know, the more time I hear "there's no story here, investigate it at your peril" from the Right Wingers, the more I'm inclined to believe they're scared shitless about this.

Posted by: neilt on September 11, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Where is that cheese?
Posted by: Orwell

Between your ears, dunce.

Posted by: DJ on September 11, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

This is obviously a very very damaging scandal. Pat Buchanan defended Palin last night by downplaying it, saying that the brother-in-law tasered a 9-year old boy and saying that the American public wasn't going to care.

I wonder what is the psychology of Palin and her husband, after repeated warnings that such behavior constituted child abuse, on insisting on using the power of the government to bring an ex-family member down? Obsessed? Drunk with power?

I wonder how this psychology also fits in with actively working against your own mother-in-law running for mayor of Wasilla?

Throwing your own daughter out of the house when she becomes pregnant?

Posted by: Mary on September 11, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Let's just hope (and pray) this story gains traction.

Posted by: Cynthia on September 11, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

What is this "compliance fund" which McCain and Palin are advertising on this site? If I pay, will they allow me to comply, or will I be required to comply? And with what?

Posted by: bobarian714 on September 11, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Let's hope the O man's camp will pounce on the fact that McCain is hiding behind Palin. Expose her for what she is, a right wing bible thumping end of days nutcase.

Then what will McCain do? Obviously his strategy (or part of his strategy) is to parade her about the country, giving the BBQ press (stole that from Cesca at HuffPo) juicy little gossipy tidbits to focus on while the real issues are avoided.

So, remove Palin from the equation and what do you get?

Stale old curmudgeon John "George Bu$h III" McCain.

Posted by: citizen_pain on September 11, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks DJ I thought someone moved it.

Okay DJ now go find your cheese through the fun maze of all these great Palin scandal. You know the prize is out there now go get it.

Posted by: orwell on September 11, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Move along; nothing to see here. LOOK -- OVER THERE: a shiny pig with lipstick!! [press stampede ensues]

Posted by: Doofus on September 11, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

You and Hilzoy deserve better than this crappy GIF.

Posted by: Righteous Bubba on September 11, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

The Palin family is turning out to have more skeletons in their closet than Jeffrey Dahmer (sorry, bad metaphor...). It will soon be revealed that the oldest son, Track, was a regular Oxycontin user and also paid some of his peers for stolen goods. One of the reasons he is joining the Army is to avoid going to jail. Bristol is reputedly a little slut who was seen smoking pot and drunk, being passed from guy to guy at parties. Funny she can even say who knocked her up for certain. Sarah herself was knocked up before she was married and the old man is a regularly unemployed seasonal worker who drinks too much and has been know to be abusive to her in public. Sarah also is accused of infidelity with a close family friend.

I'm kinda hoping McCain wins, cuz this dyfunctional Palin clan is gonna make the Clintons look like Mary, Joseph and Jesus himself!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 11, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, Governor, I believe your lipstick is smeared.

Posted by: Paul Avery on September 11, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Small town game.
Small town values.

And yes I lived in one.
Any yes I moved away precisely for this kind of behavior.

And no, don't get me wrong, there are nice things to say about small towns too.

But if you want checks and balance and professionalism that keeps the Little Caesars, Caribou Barbies, and the First Duds of this world from puffing up their chests and acting like pricks,-- go to the big city. You will have a far better chance of being appreciated for what you know rather than who you know.

Bottom line: A lot of vicious, dysfunctional crap likes this goes down in small towns everyday. You won't hear anybody talking about that of course. Because "small town values" is one of those golden goose eggs no one is allowed to assay. But drop the damn thing in water: Live in one for a while. And you'll like say the same thing I, and Archimedes, said: Eustinka!

Take this to bank: I will never live in a small town again. They are fiefdoms filled with mean Barney Fifes. Caribou Barbie is just par for that course...


Posted by: koreyel on September 11, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that the child-to-be is the Christ child, Himself and that the conception was immaculate. Any takers?
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on September 11, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Look, one of the reasons for all these distractions (lipstick, etc.) is precisely to draw our attention away from the serious allegations Palin faces and her serial lying about her earmark record and other positions.

Modern Republicans have apparently convinced themselves that because they are such simple and good people voters will overlook their lies and complete flipflops on the issues.

The fact that the GOP chooses to focus on lipstick on a day when Lehman Brothers teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, when the Afghanistan commanding officer says we need a radical change in strategy and Texas evacuates hundreds of thousands in advance of Hurricane Ike -- we have real reasons to question the Republican candidates' judgment.

The GOP wouldn't let Democrats get away with this infantile and duplicitous behavior, not for one minute. The GOP cheapens the office of the President and insults serious journalists with their phony, infantile press release rants.

By the way, why do Republicans always refer to "east coast elitists?" Since when is elitism dependent on geography?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 11, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Troll alert: You people are seriously mistaken if you think this is the kill shot for Palin. And Conservative Deflator, do you have any non-National Enquirer sources? What a clownshow this site is...

Posted by: Tom Mathers on September 11, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

So you all understand. I think Palin has the standard Republican entitlement attitude. She thinks she is better than you and me. I have already heard enough about Trooper Gate to know that she was way over the line and abused her power. It seems to me that she is basically George Bush in a skirt. I would love to point out all of her problems. Sadly there are only 53 days until the election. Every day we spend horsing around with Palin is a good day for McCain.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 11, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Newsweek reports that an Alaskan judge directly warned Palin about harassing her former brother in law."

Would that be the guy who tasered his stepson and threatened to kill his then-father-in-law? Why would a judge not consider these things seriously?

I heard Mike Gravel on this the other day. He said it's a big nothing.

Posted by: SteveIL on September 11, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't the guy still a trooper?

Posted by: croatoan on September 11, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Stated reason for firing him: "He wasn't a team player." This is quite a running theme in Palin's career, isn't it? The same reason she gave for firing the librarian before the town forced her to back down. Obviously she has personal motives for these firings, and just as obviously she's so convinced that personal loyalty to her is the highest possible value that she trots it out as an excuse.

Posted by: T-Rex on September 11, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I heard Mike Gravel on this the other day. He said it's a big nothing.

Well, if Mike Gravel said it...

Funny thing, though. Before she went on the GOP ticket, Palin pledged full cooperation with the bipartisan legislative investigation she's now trying to shut down and with which she flatly refuses to cooperate. Before she went on the GOP ticket, she said she had nothing to hide; now she's claiming executive privilege on 1,100 emails. Before she went on the GOP ticket, at least seven of her aides had agreed to depositions; now they've all changed their minds.

For this being a big nothin', Palin certainly is acting like it's a huge something.

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

I think the better response to McCain and Palin is for Dems to get really angry at their campaign's attempts to falsely portray herself as a reform champion.

We need to hold our elected, and potentially elected, leaders to high standards. McCain and Palin need to know that we get really mad when they repeatedly lie to us. They think we are so stupid we will not realize they say one thing and do the complete opposite.

How they behave in the campaign is a good indicator of how they would govern if elected.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 11, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain has really done a great job already. Why give more credence to the rumors by pointing out that Ms. Sarah is embroiled in scandal after scandal.

Posted by: Gridlock on September 11, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK
What is this "compliance fund" which McCain and Palin are advertising on this site? If I pay, will they allow me to comply, or will I be required to comply? And with what?

Posted by: bobarian714 on September 11, 2008 at 3:12 PM

I'm not certain, but I believe it's related to the Public Financing laws. Once you accept public financing (ie, get the check) you can't fundraise for your own campaign any more. You CAN, however, do some meta-fundraising. The costs associated with keeping track of and accounting for all the public fund expenditures are "deductible" as it were. A candidate's compliance fund can be donated to so that they can use as much as possible of the public grant for the actual costs of campaigning.

Once they've got (what they feel to be) enough funds in there to cover the administrative costs, they'll probably start up a joint effort fund among some of the swing states that people can donate to.

In fact, it looks like they've already started that.

McCain-Palin Victory 2008 is a joint fundraising committee by the McCain-Palin Compliance Fund, Republican National Committee, and Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania Republican Parties.

Posted by: Jasper on September 11, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Funny thing, though. Before she went on the GOP ticket, Palin pledged full cooperation with the bipartisan legislative investigation she's now trying to shut down and with which she flatly refuses to cooperate. Before she went on the GOP ticket, she said she had nothing to hide; now she's claiming executive privilege on 1,100 emails. Before she went on the GOP ticket, at least seven of her aides had agreed to depositions; now they've all changed their minds."

Right after Sarah claimed she had nothing to hide, she tried to compromise the Alaska Legislature's 100 percent bipartisan investigation of Troopergate by having her old-friend-Wasilla-lawyer-Attorney-General do a preemptive investigation to taint potential witnesses, memories, and results.

One of the reasons she's trying to hide her emails is because they will show the extent to which her unelected husband is calling the shots in state government. That is an issue that needs to be addressed on its own. The practice of using private emails to circumvene the public process, both on the federal and state levels, needs to be thoroughly investigated, litigated, and stopped.

Regarding the use of Bush-Cheney-Rove tactics, that's what got Sarah's predecessor into trouble - the Murkowski Administration used the BCR script and it backfired on them because Alaska's too small a place to politically blitzkrieg that way - not enough distractions and too many people are connected to each other. Unfortunately, the Murkowski-ites did a lot of damage before the FBI - NOT Sarah Palin - ripped into them. (Murkowski's chief of staff, his pitbull who was actually running the state, is due for sentencing in Federal court tomorrow, by the way.).

Posted by: ghillie on September 11, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

You people are seriously mistaken if you think this is the kill shot for Palin.

Well, I have to admit, evidence of her serial lying is abundant, but you know, your unsourced and unsupported assertion is so convincing, and the Republican concern for Democratice well being so obvious, I'm convinced we should stop paying attention to an unforlding scandal of an unvetted candidate.

Not.

Palin == Eagleton.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Keep on attacking . . . . Don't stop now. All I can smell is 20m whacked out liberal wing nuts defecating in their skivvies. PRICELESS!

Posted by: Iben Hakenluggis on September 11, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

"the safety commissioner she fired for dubious reasons was a state leader in combating violence against women"

It gets worse. She replaced Monegan with Kopp. She did this even though she had been notified that Kopp had a record of committing sexual harassment. The person who was sexually harassed by Kopp sent an email to Palin on 7/14/08, early in the morning before Palin made her announcement.

The email is here: http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site163/2008/0724/20080724_084201_KoppFileLetter.pdf

Palin's announcement of Kopp's appointment is referenced here: http://community.adn.com/adn/node/127018

Palin then gave Kopp a $10,000 severance package, after he served only 2 weeks: http://aprn.org/2008/08/14/governor-gives-kopp-a-hefty-severance-package/

Monegan received no severance.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad on September 11, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

One of the reasons she's trying to hide her emails is because they will show the extent to which her unelected husband is calling the shots in state government. That is an issue that needs to be addressed on its own. The practice of using private emails to circumvene the public process, both on the federal and state levels, needs to be thoroughly investigated, litigated, and stopped.

Yes, I've been watching all this with interest. I'd like to see more examination of why Todd Palin is getting copied on "official" emails galore. David Corn was on somewhere or other last night--guess it had to be Rachel Maddow, but I was walking around not paying much attention at the time--talking about how claims of executive privilege probably won't stand if one of the correspondents is a not an employee of the executive office. I expect they'll try very hard to run out the clock on that one.

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

I like that phrase -- "run the clock out." That's what McCain is doing -- he's betting that 60 days isn't enough time to track down and document all of Governor Palin's duplicitous and illegal behavior before we have to vote.

Governor Palin needs to be subjected to the same background checking that Obama and Biden have already undergone by virtue of the fact they are established politicians. This is in part what we mean by choosing someone with "experience." Experience, as in investigations turned up no skeletons in the closet.

Looks like Governor Palin has several skeletons in just a short time in public office. She looks more petty and vindictive by the day. Up and comer, indeed. She's looking more and more like just another run-of-the-mill Republican jerk.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 11, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I've been watching all this with interest. I'd like to see more examination of why Todd Palin is getting copied on "official" emails galore. -- shortstop, @17:21

Especially given the fact of his close relationship with that Alaskan separatist party...

Posted by: exlibra on September 11, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see more examination of why Todd Palin is getting copied on "official" emails galore. -shortstop

I would imagine she defers to him on all major judgments. Part of me is actually surprised she talks without his permission.

On the other hand, I supposed John McCain is just his surrogate and he can give her permission to talk.

Posted by: doubtful on September 11, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the Corn story on the emails.

I like that phrase -- "run the clock out." That's what McCain is doing -- he's betting that 60 days isn't enough time to track down and document all of Governor Palin's duplicitous and illegal behavior before we have to vote.

Yes, and not enough time for them to pay the piper on anything else they're doing, either. The phrase is not mine; bloggers and commenters have been using it ever since it became apparent that from now until Nov. 4 (and really until the couple of weeks before the election when a lot of early voting comes in), McCain-Palin will be about brazenly repeating lies, hiding from the media, never going off script and refusing to talk about policy.

I can't remember who said that the McCain camp knew they'd be criticized heavily for all this, but they see it as taking a few penalties while they run out the clock. That's exactly right.

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2008 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Pat Buchanan defended Palin last night by downplaying it, saying that the brother-in-law tasered a 9-year old boy"

I don't know if that's what Buchanan said, but it should be noted that the boy was 11. Some reports say 10, but those reports are wrong.

In an email Palin wrote on 8/10/05, she said the boy was 11 ("he shot his 11-year-old stepson, Payton, with his Taser gun"). See here, p. 2: http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site163/2008/0717/20080717_064655_647.pdf

Some corroborating facts. In an interview on 5/2/05, Molly said Payton is currently 13. See here, p. 9: http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site163/2008/0717/20080717_061848_639.pdf

On 6/6/05, a police investigator made reference to the Taser incident happening two years prior. He asked Bristol Palin why they "waited so long and brought the incident up after two years." See the above pdf, p. 17.

All these statements indicate that the Taser incident happened in 2003, when Payton was 11.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad on September 11, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Why did they only bring the incident up after two years? What does Molly Heath McCann Wooten Hackett (did I miss any husbands in that list?) say about not reporting it sooner?

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2008 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Why did they only bring the incident up after two years?"

The police investigator addressed that question to Bristol, Sarah's daughter. I guess Bristol was asked the question because she witnessed the Taser incident. Her answer: "because of the divorce and stuff." See here, p. 17:

http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site163/2008/0717/20080717_061848_639.pdf

Kids say the darndest things!

I guess they should have addressed the same question to the mom. But as far as I can tell, they didn't.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad on September 11, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone noticed the trooper's defense of what he did. (I have no idea if it is true, but it certainly sounds believable, given the fact that it was his own stepson, and the way 11 year olds act.) Yes, he tasered the boy, not as 'discipline' but because the boy had seen tasers used on television, saw his stepdad had one, and asked him to show him how it felt. I don't know enough about how tasers work to be sure, but if they have various settings, I'm sure the stepfather used the lowest possible one.

Again, I hardly am in any position to know if this is true, but the more i think about it, the more likely it seems, simply because if the trooper were really the monster the initial story makes him out to be, there would have been many more cases of abuse of his children, which could have been brought out and could have guaranteed his being fired without the necessity of Gubernatorial intervention. Has anyone checked to see if there were any other charges of abuse leveled in the divorce action?

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on September 11, 2008 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

And Conservative Deflator, do you have any non-National Enquirer sources? What a clownshow this site is...

But I thought that the National Enquirer was the vanguard of investigative journalism since they broke the John Edwards story! I guess they're reliable when it's a Democrat but a complete joke when it's a Republican.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 11, 2008 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just hoping I don't get fired for impregnating her daughter.....

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