Moose Pies

     Parts of the ethics report on Gov. Sarah Palin would be funny, if real people were not involved, and if this petty, ignorant and vindictive woman did not stand a real chance of being president soon.
     The best part is the stuff about the moose.
     Palin and her husband, Todd, fired Alaska’s Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan because Monegan refused to fire a state trooper who had divorced Gov. Palin’s sister, Molly.
     The Palins insist they didn’t fire Monegan because of a spiteful family vendetta, but because Monegan refused to fire Molly’s ex, Trooper Michael Wooten.
     In his report to the Alaska Legislative Council, independent investigator Stephen Branchflower cites 18 “events” in which Gov. Palin, her husband or a member of her staff pressured Monegan to fire Wooten, though Wooten already had been punished for his sins, which were years old.
     One of Wooten’s sins was to have shot a moose without a permit.
     The following quotes are taken from pp. 23-25 of the Branchflower report, which is appended at the end of this column.
     When Todd Palin pressed Monegan to fire Wooten for shooting the moose, Monegan replied that Wooten had been hunting on his wife’s permit – that would be the governor’s sister – and that Wooten’s father-in-law helped him butcher the moose – that would be Gov. Palin’s father.
     “I pointed out that there are people also involved in this incident that theoretically could also be charged,” Monegan said. “And he said, I didn’t want that. I only want Wooten charged.”
     A few days later, Gov. Palin called Monegan.
     “The sole topic was Michael Wooten,” Monegan said. Monegan told her “that there would be more than one person charged in a moose hunt. For example, there would be other people that could be charged if a charge was levied.
     “Mr. Branchflower: You mentioned that to her?
     “Mr. Monegan: Yes.
     “Mr. Branchflower: And what was her reaction at hearing all of that?
     “Mr. Monegan: Well, again, I think she kind of said that same things that Todd did, in regards to that is just not right.”
     Pages 114-15 feature a long email Sarah Palin wrote to Monegan about the moose.
     Gov. Palin repeatedly let her husband butt in on state business though Todd Palin was not elected to anything, did not hold a state office and did not work for the state.
     Todd Palin repeatedly attended state Cabinet meetings. Pages 96-105 describe the day he summoned Monegan to the governor’s office, where Todd Palin sat alone with “three stacks of paper” in front of him, including state documents, and demanded again that Monegan fire Wooten.
     Some of the Palins’ complaints are unbelievably petty. They complained that Wooten had taken his kids to elementary school in his patrol car. But Branchflower found that Wooten’s boss had OK’d that, because Wooten was on a swing shift.
     Sarah Palin refused to sign a photo for Police Memorial Day that the Alaska State Troopers wanted to use as a poster. It depicts a state trooper saluting a flag in front of the troopers’ headquarters. Other state troopers stand in the background. Gov. Palin refused to sign the photo, and canceled her appearance at Police Memorial Day, because Trooper Wooten was one of the guys in the background.
     That story is told on pp. 37-38. Page 158 makes it clear that Monegan and his assistant, John Glass, could not even recognize Wooten in the photo, but had to send someone to check out who it was.
     Gov. Palin refused to attend the Alaska State Fair when she found out that Trooper Wooten would be there in a bear costume, as the Safety Bear, for kids. That story begins on p. 125.
     After John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, the Palins claimed that they were afraid of Wooten. But the Branchflower report points out that they made no such claim in the 18 “events” at which they tried to get Wooten fired – they talked only about trying to fire him.
     Is it reasonable that a vice presidential candidate who portrays herself as a tough moose hunter would be afraid of a trooper in a bear costume at the state fair?
     It’s clear throughout the Branchflower report that Monegan was trying to protect Gov. Palin, and her husband, by warning them to keep away from a personnel matter that already had been dealt with. Among the people Monegan warned about this were Sarah Palin, Todd Palin, and Attorney General Talis Colberg.
     Monegan warned them repeatedly that if Wooten were punished again, for things for which he already had been punished, Wooten could sue all of them, and the Palins’ actions would be discoverable in litigation, which would be politically embarrassing. Monegan warns Attorney General Colberg about this on p. 131. His similar warnings to others are scattered throughout the report.
     These petty abuses typify the behavior that has come to characterize the Bush Justice Department: abuse of office to seek prosecution of personal enemies, compounded by the Palins’ desire not just to punish, but to personally destroy a person, a state official, with whom they disagreed.
     It’s also typical that when Sarah Palin was nailed for this, she lied about it.
     The report’s first official finding is that “Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.”
     Palin responded by telling The Associated Press that the report found “no unlawful or unethical activity on my part.”
     It’s also typical that the U.S. media let her get away with that.
     Gov. Palin insists, today, that she fired Monegan because he didn’t devote enough time to one of Palin’s alleged pet projects – protecting Native American women from abuse.
     I’ll believe that one when Gov. Palin releases official documents that show she has devoted as much time to this important cause as she did to firing the guy who divorced her sister.

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