Thursday, September 04, 2008


It looks like one of the few initial attacks on Sarah Palin that will stand up is her alleged misuse of power in firing a subordinate for not firing a state trooper under his jurisdiction. The issue is already under investigation, but I'm sure all the media furor will make it all but impossible to continue at this point. A fairly detailed report of the situation can be found here.

There is obviously much more to this case than what the average media report lets on. From the report above I have to wonder just why Trooper Wooten is still employed. For a law enforcement officer to make death threats against anyone is indefensible. For him to remain a law enforcement officer afterward is reprehensible.

The accusations against Wooten (granted, none are verified in the article above):
- Threats against Palin and her family
- Shooting a cow moose without a permit
- Tasering his stepson (by invitation, but still!)
- Drove a trooper vehicle while drinking
- Refused a transfer

Perhaps most of these are a smear campaign by Palin's family, but at least two charges should be verifiable (tasering and refusing a transfer), and possibly a third (shooting the moose), as there are supposedly witnesses. That should at least be enough to merit formaly inquiry and discipline, and should bolster the case for the other two charges. Those alone could make a respectable case for dismissal.

Now add to that:
- Most governors rely on the state police for protection. At the very least, Wooten's continued employment could serve to poison the rest of the force against her, putting her security at risk.
- It could also put him in a position to make acting on his threats that much easier.
- His law enforcement credentials could easily get him past any other security measures that could be arranged, giving him easy access to any of her family at will.

I'd certainly be concerned in her position. But no, at that point it's not firm grounds for dismissing Monegan, who oversaw the state police. Nor would doing so improve the situation, except perhaps for the reasons she stated--Wooten's continued service undermines the integrity of the state police organization. Those charged with enforcing the law shouldn't be breaking the law.

But that's not the reason Monegan was dismissed. He was also uncooperative in curtailing his budget as requested. No one is contesting that charge, which while not exactly validating it, certainly lends it credence. If the Wooten situation had never happened and he'd been fired for that reason would anyone be raising an eyebrow today? She violated no laws in firing him. The only issue is whether the Wooten situation played any part in her decision.

Frankly, what's wrong with it if it did? Her concerns are valid, and so far Monegan has not offered any evidence that he acted at all to alleviate her concerns. He didn't even order an investigation, from what the article says. It appears that by and large Monegan and his organization not only did as little as possible to answer valid concerns for Palin's family's safety, but actually took steps to circumvent what legal recourse they did have by intervening on Wooten's behalf over a restraining order against him.

What it sounds like to me is this is just one more "good ol' boy network" that Palin tried to break up--only this time it was personal. If this had been any other citizen of Alaska in her situation, and they'd appealed to her to help, she'd be in big trouble today if she'd done nothing and Wooten had gone on to hurt someone. But instead, because it's her own family she's expected to turn a blind eye?

If that's the case, may I never be governor.

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