Friday, August 29, 2008
Non-scandal involving Gov. Palin: Even though he's an admitted child-abuser who Tasered his own step-son and used a deadly weapon to break the law, Trooper Wooten still has a job
I'm republishing as a post in its own right what I wrote in a comment on July 21 on my post describing Gov. Sarah Palin as the "Most popular politician in the country" — which she indeed is among her own constituents in Alaska, and, I predict, will soon become around the rest of the nation.
Commenter Sam D had written: "Folks..you need to go to www.andrewhalcro.com to see what our Governor Palin has been up to. Her political career is all but over. She has been caught in many lies in the last few days. Read for yourself." Here's what I wrote in response (reprinted here with minor editing but without blockquoting; most links in original):
Andrew Halcro, who runs a rental-car business, is a colorful crank who placed a distant third in the gubernatorial election that Palin won. He's devoted his life since then to trying to discredit her; her constituents see through it.
I take it you're referring to the possibility that she and members of her family may somehow acted improperly — through a complaint she filed before she was governor and through later expressions of disapproval and concern when she was briefing the head of her gubernatorial security detail — in the firing of the boss of an Alaska state trooper, Mike Wooten, who was previously married to Palin's sister. (Wooten's been married and divorced four times, in fact.) In response to the complaint, Wooten was found in 2005 to have shot a moose illegally and to have used his Taser on his own ten-year-old stepson, "just to show him what it would feel like to be Tasered." (To work up a righteous furor over this, the Left will be obliged to pivot from its stance in the Andrew Meyer Tasering incident at the John Kerry speech in Florida last year, and to instead wear "Please Tase Me, Dad!" tee-shirts.) The trooper apparently was also photographed by the governor's husband while riding a snowmobile while off work on a worker's compensation claim for a supposed back injury, and the governor has reported that he's made death threats against her and her father.
The trooper's boss who Palin later replaced when she became governor, Walt Monegan, had reduced Wooten's suspension without pay from ten days to down to five. But Wooten is in fact still on the force, a time bomb continuing to tick away. Palin has denied that there is any connection between Wooten's status and her replacement of Monegan, however, whose position was an appointed one that serves "at the pleasure" of the governor. (Monegan was offered a different position, which he refused.)
Yeah, I've been following that story in the Alaska press, but I previously chose not to dignify Halcro with a mention here, much less a link to his blog. Nevertheless, if that's the best opposition research anyone can come up with for Sarah Barracuda, I'd say that's a pretty good sign she can pass the McCain team's, and the American public's, vetting too.
I don't know whether there was an even subconscious connection between Wooten's misdeeds and Monagen's dismissal, but I've written before that Sarah Palin is popular in Alaska despite having some sharp elbows. Her victims include some Republican politicians who are now doing well-deserved prison time for influence peddling. The fact is that some people deserve a sharp blow from a sharp elbow. Sometimes those who enable and cover up for such people also deserve a sharp blow from a sharp elbow. So bring me someone with a Palin-elbow-shaped bruise who clearly didn't deserve it, and then you might have something interesting.
Halcro, by contrast, has invested himself in promoting a child-abusing bully with a proved record of misusing deadly firearms to break the law while an officer of the law — which I think tells you all you need to know about Halcro too.
A few pithy paragraphs I'd missed from the Alaska press about Trooper Wooten (bold-face mine):
"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," Col. Julia Grimes, then head of Alaska State Troopers, wrote in March 1, 2006, letter suspending Wooten for 10 days. After the union protested it, the suspension was reduced to five days.
Troopers eventually investigated 13 issues and found four in which Wooten violated policy or broke the law or both:
Wooten used a Taser on his stepson.
He illegally shot a moose.
He drank beer in his patrol car on one occasion.
He told others his father-in-law [Palin's father] would "eat a f'ing lead bullet" if he helped his daughter get an attorney for the divorce.
Beyond the investigation sparked by the family, trooper commanders saw cause to discipline or give written instructions to correct Wooten seven times since he joined the force, according to Grimes' letter to Wooten.
Gov. Palin has welcomed and cooperated fully with a legislative investigation that Halcro's hyperbole has ginned up. Ultimately, this is one of those non-scandals that is actually likely to end up improving the reputation of its target, since most of us would probably share the Palin family's concerns about Trooper Wooten. The only question I have is: Why is that miscreant still wearing a badge?
UPDATE (Fri Sep 5 @ 1:15pm): Henceforth I shall avoid the name used by some for this controversy, "Troopergate," which among other problems sounds like prior genuine scandals involving, for example, disgraced former NY governor Eliot Spitzer's misuse of state troopers. Instead I shall refer to it as Tasergate, which has the appropriate effect of reminding people that those defending Wooten must therefore be in favor of child abuse.
Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Non-scandal involving Gov. Palin: Even though he's an admitted child-abuser who Tasered his own step-son and used a deadly weapon to break the law, Trooper Wooten still has a job and sent a trackback ping are listed here:
» Sarah Palin - criticisms that fail from Mark My Words
Tracked on Sep 2, 2008 7:57:09 PM
(1) Milhouse made the following comment | Aug 29, 2008 3:30:01 PM | Permalink
Given all that, I want to know why Palin didn't get him fired. Is it impossible for a governor to get a state trooper fired, when she has certain knowledge of his unfitness for duty? If he hadn't been connected to her family, if she'd found out all this information about a trooper who was completely unrelated to her, would he still have a job? Did she bend over backwards so as not to appear partial, and thus leave a dangerous man with a badge? That's what I'd like to know.
Thanks for this post. I've been trying to educate myself on Palin and your blog is very useful. Sounds like Wooten is a real jewel.
(3) markg8 made the following comment | Aug 29, 2008 3:53:57 PM | Permalink
Local Alaskan tv report nails Palin lying about firing scandal. What was McCain thinking?
(4) JoeCitizen made the following comment | Aug 29, 2008 4:19:53 PM | Permalink
I would assume that if a trooper is charged with any sort of misconduct, there are procedures in place by which the charges are investigated, the trooper given an opportunity to defend himself, and appropriate punishment meted out, if guilty.
There seems never to be a situation where the intervention of a politician is appropriate, unless the governor sits at the top of some internal appeals process. To intervene, positivly or negativly in the case of a family member, is obviously inappropriate.
(5) Milhouse made the following comment | Aug 29, 2008 5:44:57 PM | Permalink
Come on, Joe, if a trooper made death threats to your father, and tasered your nephew, you'd do anything you could to get him off the force. If you can't do that what's the point of being governor? And remember that all state employees work for the governor; ultimately the guy is Palin's employee, and she should have tried to get him fired - that she didn't tells me that she's too honest.
As for Monegan, she had the right to fire him for any reason or none. She could have fired him because she didn't like the colour of his tie, for all I care, or because she wanted to hire an ex-boyfriend. So long as she didn't try to frame him for a crime, as Hillary Clinton did to the White House travel office staff, any "scandal" about it doesn't even begin.
markq8: Gee, I'm sure a local news channel video whose national republication is sponsored by Talking Points Memo is likely to be fair and balanced. But it actually doesn't support your claims, which you'd have known if you'd read the most recent in the series of Anchorage Daily News articles I already linked. Palin was unaware of the Bailey phone call, which in any event was not made at her request or with her authorization:
Palin says she was shocked to hear the call but that it doesn't prove her administration pushed Monegan to fire her former brother-in-law. "He did not say Monegan needs to fire this guy," she said, adding it was "absolutely inappropriate that he appeared to be representing me."
In any event, it's clear that the line to support this admitted child-abuser and committer of crimes with a deadly weapon forms at the FAR LEFT.
And JoeCitizen: You need to go back to civics class. In general, a state governor is the chief executive of his or her state, ultimately responsible to ensure that state employees are abiding by the law. There's no doubt whatsoever that she had total authority to replace Monagan, a political appointee of the previous ethically challenged governor, for any reason or no reason at all. But there's also nothing other than your innuendo to show that his inaction on Trooper Wooten was one of her reasons. Even if it was, an agency head's failure to run his department appropriately can't be excused just because someone he ought to have fired was once related to the governor. The scandal, I repeat, is that Trooper Wooten is still wearing a badge, and it's clear that Sarah Palin being elected governor with her self-imposed reluctance to act directly on his case is the luckiest thing that ever happened to him.
(7) MartyH made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 1:15:26 AM | Permalink
I was in Alaska a few weeks ago, and we could only get one radio station for a while. The host was going on about this scandal. My wife's takeaway (who is not into politics at all) was, "Wooten's a bad cop. They should be trying to get him fired."
I don't think this controversy is going to hurt Palin much.
(8) Eileen made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 1:28:59 AM | Permalink
It looks like Wooten is part of that corrupt Alaska that Gov. Palin was trying to clean up.
As to why Gov. Palin didn't fire him directly, it is up to the state trooper's dept. head to do the firing. Imagine a governor firing a nurse in a state hospital. That's not how it works in state govt, milhouse.
(9) Sharon Reynolds made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 3:24:52 AM | Permalink
Wow, the dems must be running scared! Hopefully peole can se thru the Obama rhetoric and elect a team dedicated to reducing the nightmare beuracracy that predominatley Dems have created over the years. And maybe we can get oil too, not just gas, if we get rid of airheads like Pelosi and put more realistic people in office. The Dems have and are blocking America.
They are forcing us to fund terrorism. Saudi is no.1 in
support by the crazy Wahabs.
Oil will one day beome in very low demand as new technologies come on line. But ARCO could have been supplying us long ago with Alaska oil.
I just have this mental image of Josh Marshall stepping on a rake...
(11) Milhouse made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 3:31:42 PM | Permalink
OK, Eileen, if that's not how it works, then what is a governor to do when the trooper's (or the nurse's) dep't head won't fire him? You admitted yourself that he's a bad cop, "part of the corrupt Alaska", so why is he still on the job? The buck stops at the governor's desk; ultimately he works for her. Sometimes the usual way of doing business needs to be shaken up.
The buck stops at the governor's desk; ultimately he works for her. Sometimes the usual way of doing business needs to be shaken up.
Nope. The buck stops with the union. The governor actually can't be involved. Not with those types of employees. There are other, appointed positions, like Monegan's, where she has complete control. Which is why this scandal is so much BS. She could fire him for getting a parking ticket, for heavens sake.
This reminds me of the manufactured scandal here in Maryland over former Governor Erlich firing a bunch of appointees from the previous administration. The heavily Democratic state legislature opened up an extremely expensive, extremely bogus investigation leading into his re-election campaign. Of course, fully backed by the press in this state (including the Washington Post). They helped get the Teflon Leprechaun (now-Governor Martin O'Malley) elected. Erlich was good. He got royally jobbed. I'm a registered Democrat, and I was thoroughly pissed off at what they did to him.
Oh, well. Here's to Sarah bringin' on some of the Barracuda!
(13) Steve Ford made the following comment | Sep 18, 2008 5:30:18 PM | Permalink
Hurray.....for Sara. Seems that she has a pincent smelling out rotten odors. Usually when something begans to stink, there needs to be a house cleaning. To allow someone of the caliber of trooper Wooten to remain on the job, and worse yet, the non actions by Monegan is suspect to say the least. Where is the leadership he's suppose to have in keeping his department scandle free. Geeeeezee.........Where has all the common sense gone. I say Sara has most of it. Love her..........!!!
The comments to this entry are closed.