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Friday, September 05, 2008

Palin seeks truth from state agency with jurisdiction, refuses to cooperate with political hatchet job, in Tasergate non-scandal

A blogospheric friend sent me this link to an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News, asking me for my thoughts on what a columnist there was describing as Gov. Palin "stonewalling" the state legislature's investigation into "Tasergate," a non-scandal I blogged about on the evening of August 29th, immediately after Sen. McCain's Veep choice was revealed. 

(I won't call it "Troopergate." For one thing, that's confusing, because there have been previous controversies called that, including one involving disgraced N.Y. ex-governor Eliot Spitzer. "Tasergate," however, properly reminds everyone that those who support the trooper in question, Mike Wooten, are necessarily lining up in favor of child abuse, commission of crimes with deadly weapons, cops drinking in their patrol cars, and cops making death threats. "Taser-Moose-Beer-Death-Threat-gate" would be better still, but it's just too long.)


Before I respond, let's recap certain things that tend to get lost in the telling — at least as told by Palin opponents, by some odd coincidence — but that are indisputable:

The first complaints by the Palin family about trooper Mike Wooten were made, and an official investigation was begun, in April 2005 — at which time Gov. Palin was still a private citizen, having already resigned from the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, and long before she became a candidate for the 2006 gubernatorial race.

As a result of that investigation, Wooten was given only a slap on the hand as punishment — a ten-day suspension that was reduced to five days after Wooten's union protested. But the factual findings by Col. Julia Grimes, the then-Director of the Alaska State Troopers Division of the Alaska Department of Public Safety, were set out in a letter to Wooten dated March 1, 2006, which conclusively established certain factual findings that Wooten did not further challenge or appeal:

  • As a Taser instructor, Wooten had been "well trained in the application and risks associated with use of the weapon on a child." Nevertheless, as Wooten admitted during the investigation, he had used his Department-issued Taser on his own 10-year-old stepson Payton, an act that Col. Grimes said "demonstrated extremely poor judgment and a conscious choice to violate the department's standards of conduct."

  • As he eventually admitted (after first denying it), with full knowledge that his wife's hunting license was not transferable to himself, he illegally shot and killed a moose. "The fact that you are currently assigned as a wildlife crimes investigator," wrote Col. Grimes (italics hers), "exponentially exacerbates this violation as it is absolutely contrary to your current assignment." (So Wooten admitted to using a deadly weapon to commit a crime of the exact sort he was supposed to be preventing. I guess it's a good thing he wasn't then on assignment to any murder investigations, huh?)

  • Independent witnesses confirmed to Col. Grimes that in June or July of 2004, Wooten had pulled his police cruiser into their driveway, helped himself to a beer from the refrigerator in their garage, drank it, and then got and opened another beer before driving away, beer still in hand. This, wrote Col. Grimes, "not only exposed the Department to [criminal and civil] liability, but further demonstrate[d Wooten's] lack of judgment and a profound disrespect for the responsibilities of a law enforcement officer," putting "the integrity of every other State Trooper" into question.

  • Col. Grimes noted that Wooten's file already contained seven other documented instances of infractions of Department policies, ranging from "negligent damage to a state vehicle" to multiple dangerous violations of traffic laws to habitual tardiness and being absent without leave. "Your unacceptable conduct appears to have continued and even escalated," she wrote. This amounted to 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." Moreover, "[i]t is nearly certain," she wrote (boldface mine), "that a civilian investigated under similar circumstances would have received criminal sanctions."

According to a news report by Anchorage Daily News reporter Lisa Demer on July 27, 2008, the investigation also confirmed that in February 2005, Wooten had said in a telephone conversation with Sarah Palin's sister, Molly McCann — with Sarah Palin and her son Track also listening on a speakerphone — that if their father, Chuck Heath, helped Molly get a divorce lawyer, "he would eat a f**king lead bullet. I will shoot him." Demer's report goes on to say:

Wooten told troopers he never said anything like that about his father-in-law.

The investigation concluded he did. It wasn't a crime, because he didn't threaten Heath directly. But it did violate trooper policy, the investigation found.

Someone argued with me earlier that Trooper Wooten and Gov. Palin are both entitled to the "benefit of the doubt." That's incorrect. The allegations against Gov. Palin now are unproved claims made by Wooten (who we may reasonably presume is still angry at the Palin family), Walt Monegan (who lost his job as Alaska's Public Safety Commissioner), and Andrew Halcro (the rental car businessman who finished a distant third-place in 2006 behind Gov. Palin and former governor Tony Knowles, and who first raised on his blog, before Monegan had ever publicly suggested it, the possibility of a connection between Wooten and the Monegan firing). The facts about Wooten's misconduct as detailed in Col. Grimes' letter, by contrast, are beyond any dispute — and all that's left to wonder about is why in the hell this miscreant wasn't charged for the series of crimes to which he admitted, and why he is still carrying a badge and a gun!

But amazingly, Wooten still has his job. And if Gov. Palin somehow has conspired to fire him, she's done a damned poor job of it. Moreover, she's been amazingly lax as a vengeful conspirator, given that she waited until she was a year and a half into her term before making her decision to move Monegan to a different state agency.

[Update (Fri Sep 5 @ 6:00pm): A commenter reminded me to note that one of the emails from Gov. Palin to Monegan which supposedly "pressured" Monegan to fire Wooten was sent on February 7, 2007, not long after she'd spoken to Monegan of Wooten, for purposes of briefing her security detail, as being one person who might have grudges against her and who might intend her violence. Per a WaPo news report yesterday, the purpose of that email was to give Monegan permission to speak to the Alaska Legislature about a pending bill that would "require 99-year sentences for police officers found guilty of murder" — certainly relevant given that Wooten had made a death threat against Gov. Palin's father. The second email, sent on July 17, 2007, came "after the local newspaper publicized a legislative proposal that would keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill." According to that email, Gov. Palin's "first thought about the bill ... 'went to my ex-brother-in-law, the trooper, who threatened to kill my dad yet was not even reprimanded by his bosses and still to this day carries a gun, of course.'" Gov. Palin's opponents would now convert that into an executive command from Palin that Monegan fire Wooten, with a further threat that she would fire Monegan if he didn't. — Beldar]

But did she ever actually threaten, or tell others to threaten, Monegan with firing if he didn't fire Wooten? She says she did not. And even Walt Monegan has repeatedly admitted that she did not!

"For the record, no one ever said fire Wooten. Not the governor. Not Todd. Not any of the other staff," Monegan said Friday from Portland. "What they said directly was more along the lines of 'This isn't a person that we would want to be representing our state troopers.'"

(Boldface mine.) Ladies and gentlemen, friends and neighbors, even if you're terribly, terribly fond of poor, poor Trooper Wooten and want some child-abusing drinking-while-driving death-threateners just like him for your own home-state troopers, this admission from Monegan should be the end of the story!

So far there is no evidence whatsoever, nor even a credible allegation, that anyone ever — even without Gov. Palin's knowledge, much less her approval — transmitted an implied order to fire Trooper Wooten, much less that she made even an implied threat to fire Monegan if he didn't. Prodded along by Andrew Halcro — Gov. Palin's defeated, bitter, spiteful, and trouble-making political rival — Monegan merely leaped to that pyramid of speculative conclusions after he'd already refused Gov. Palin's offer of a transfer to another government job.

And no one disputes, or can dispute, that under Alaska law, Gov. Palin was entitled to fire Monegan with or without cause, even with no more reason than that she just didn't like him or have confidence in his abilities. He was a purely political appointee who served, quite literally, at her whim.


So back to the question of the Alaska Legislature's committee investigation: On the same day the Alaska Legislature voted to authorize the investigation, Gov. Palin announced that she would cooperate without the necessity of a subpoena, and offered herself up for questioning as soon as that very same afternoon. Since then, however, Palin's foes in Alaska have turned this into a political witch hunt.

Democratic state senator Hollis French, who's managing the investigation, is already jumping to conclusions, muttering about "impeachment" to the press, and yet simultaneously he's short-circuited any kind of basic due process by refusing to share with Gov. Palin or her counsel the historical evidence (e.g., emails) that the Legislature's investigator is collecting to use against her! At least one Alaska legislator has already called for French to step down, citing his obvious bias. French has already boasted to ABC News of his desire to "release his final report by Oct. 31, four days before the November election," as an "October surprise" that's "likely to be damaging to the Governor's administration." Other legislators have since forced the deadline for the initial report to be moved up to October 10, but the investigator hired by committee is still pressing for legislative subpoenas to seven witnesses (not including Gov. Palin).

Gov. Palin has benefited from additional and better legal advice, and I suspect that she's now come to recognize that a show trial with the Legislature sitting as kangaroo court is not the appropriate place for an ethics violation to be investigated or resolved. She took the unusual step of filing a formal ethics complaint against herself! In her written statement explaining the filing, she explains that she has

initiated a proceeding before the state personnel board because that is the agency charged by law with addressing complaints about hiring and firing matters, and ethical issues in general, regarding the Governor. It is important to note that no one has actually filed a complaint against me, including Mr. Monegan, who would have had an obligation to notify the Personnel Board if he believed there had been misconduct in his replacement. Nevertheless, the people of Alaska — and of the nation — deserve to have a decision from the proper tribunal putting their minds at ease that suggestions of misconduct that have circulated on the Internet and in some media outlets are not true....

The private lawyer representing at least one supposedly key witness, suspended Palin aid Frank Bailey, has said that Bailey will cooperate with whoever ends up having jurisdiction over the investigation, but that he doesn't want his client to become a "political football." In that same September 4 news report, Gov. Palin's lawyer is quoted as saying that he's trying to get the jurisdictional question sorted out "this week" so that this doesn't end up delaying things past the November national election. And in case you wonder who's trying to advance the ball and who's trying to hide the ball, consider this paragraph from that same report (boldface mine):

Nicki Neal, director of the state Division of Personnel and Labor Relations, said Wednesday that the board will meet soon in executive session — closed to the public — to begin its work. Palin had asked for the ethics case to be open. Neal said she'll check into how that relates to the board meetings.

The McCain-Palin campaign has also put out a detailed four-page statement with their official position on this so-called "scandal."


So is Gov. Palin, as the Anchorage op-ed writer claimed, "stone-walling"? Only if the stone wall is supposed to be part of an executioner's platform, on which her opponents expect her to stretch her neck meekly for a political hatchet job.

As Gov. Palin has insisted since Halcro's ridiculous charges about Monegan first surfaced, she has nothing to hide. But she does have an interest in having her side of the story thoroughly aired, and in having a chance to confront and respond fairly to her accusers. When and if the state personnel board finds some sort of misconduct on her part, then the state legislature can consider whether they have any grounds for censure or impeachment.

Posted by Beldar at 04:39 PM in 2008 Election, Law (2008), McCain, Palin | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Palin seeks truth from state agency with jurisdiction, refuses to cooperate with political hatchet job, in Tasergate non-scandal and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Obamatons support cop's abuse of power, children from Cold Fury

Tracked on Sep 6, 2008 9:37:59 AM

» Failure of empathy from Classical Values

Tracked on Oct 11, 2008 9:01:32 AM


(1) Mark L made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 5:13:15 PM | Permalink

Facts? What do facts have to do with anything?

The press has declared her guilty.

The Democrat's smear machine has declared her guilty.

First the punishment -- then the trial.

(Do I need a /sarcasm tag?)

(2) SAZMD made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 5:21:35 PM | Permalink

Coghill has already boasted to ABC News of his desire to "release his final report by Oct. 31"

I think you meant French.

You may also want to add that the emails Monegan showed to the press were about a year prior to his termination - not exactly a smoking gun.

I live in Alaska, ADNs coverage of Palin has been atrocious.

Keep up the good work Beldar.

(3) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 5:45:23 PM | Permalink

SAZMD, thanks for the catch, name transposition duly corrected, and I'll add an update about the emails, which I do recall reading about in the WaPo (the Dems will give them to the press but not to Gov. Palin or her lawyer, of course).

You have a different, and better, perspective than I do about how fairly the Anchorage Daily News has covered Gov. Palin, so I appreciate your opinion. Some of the articles I've read seem to display the standard MSM/liberal slant, while others seem pretty "fair and balanced." I'd be interested in any examples that come to your mind, though.

(4) SAZMD made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 6:10:16 PM | Permalink

In fairness, ADN has had some balanced articles, but the coverage since the nomination, in both the print and online editions have been biased, in my view. There have been a lot of stories about Tasergate, some fair, some lacking. Good example are the comments by French about October surprises - not a word in ADN initially, even when I read it in WaPo. Hitting her on the Bridge to Nowhere with a headline that essentially said she was for it before she was against it. Day prior to Palin's speech, their coverage suggested she was in seclusion, that McCain was hiding her. Silly stuff like that.

And then this editorial (quoted in a DailyKos Diary) which is ridiculous given what we already know.

I'm not expecting a cheerleading section, but some semblance of objectivity (especially in their choice of headlines) would be nice.

(5) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 7:19:58 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: I'm coming late to this, and have a question on your third bullet point, viz:

"Independent witnesses confirmed to Col. Grimes that in June or July of 2004, Wooten had pulled his police cruiser into their driveway, helped himself to a beer from the refrigerator in their garage,..."

Who is the "their"? Gov. Palin? Her sister, Trooper Wooten's wife? Or someone else?

Next, concerning Senator French's refusal to give Palin the evidence the commission is collecting against Palin: the way I read Article 2 Section 20 of the Alaska Constitution, the only requirement of impeachment is that the motion of impeachment must list completely the charges. I couldn't find anything in the Constitution, the Alaska Statutes, nor the Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure that would command French to turn over what the commission has turned up. That squares with my memory of Billyboy's impeachment and trial. A swinish thing to do, but French does seem to be within his rights. Or have I missed something?

French seems to me to be Alaska's version of Ronnie Earle.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(6) Capt. Bradley made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 7:24:54 PM | Permalink

Thanks for this. The press does NOT seem neutral on this. Any info on the police chief she fired because he quote "Refused to let people get drunk until 5am and carry around concealed handguns while doing so"? Or the rumors that she tried to fire some librarian becasue she refused to let Palin have Book-Burnings? I hear rumors like these on tv and from my left-wing, liberal nephew and I have to think this is made up or something, but obviously I do not have your researching skills! Help!

(7) arb made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 7:45:53 PM | Permalink

Irl Stambaugh was the police chief Palin fired when she was Mayor.


And book burnings?


(8) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 8:19:07 PM | Permalink

Mr. Koster: The independent witnesses are discussed by name in Col. Grimes' letter, a .pdf file of which is linked. I'd rather not again publish their name on the net in searchable form because they didn't ask to have their names splayed all over the net. It's a married couple described as friends of Trooper Wooten's — I don't think they begrudged him the beers, but were stunned that he'd drink them while driving.

I don't recall any documents being withheld from Pres. Clinton's defense team during his impeachment proceedings or Senate trial. I'm virtually certain he and his counsel had advance opportunity to review all of the exhibits so they could be prepared to respond to them. Most of them were from the sexual harassment case, or from the grand jury proceedings in which he was alleged to have perjured himself. Recall that Chief Justice Rehnquist, per the Constitution, presided over the Senate trial; and although there were no written rules for it, he made damned sure that procedural niceties were followed such that those proceedings were not fundamentally less fair than a regular criminal trial in an Article III court would have been.

You're right, though: There is nothing but notions of fundamental decency and fairness which require legislative bodies to accord any procedural rights to public officials; ultimately, though, that's enforced through public opinion and those legislators standing for re-election. For state senator French to refuse is simply outrageous, an attempt to set up a political ambush carried out immediately before the election, with Gov. Palin having inadequate time to respond or publicize her side of the tale. As a former state prosecutor, he should know better. I hope the voters of Alaska punish him.

Capt. Bradley: All I know about what you've asked about is what I read in Kaylene Johnson's biography. At pp. 46-48:

[Incumbent mayor John] Stein's loss [to Palin in October 1996 by a vote of 651-440] was a bitter one. Many of his supporters viewed the new young mayor as a kid playing a grown-up game. Police Chief Irv. Stambaugh, in particular, made it clear he did not care for the new arrangement.

"I told them that I understood they had supported Mayor Stein," Sarah said of her first meeting with the department heads. "But I told them they couldn't continue to support him now that he was out of office."

Sarah asked the department heads to resign and reapply for their positions. She requested resignations from the police chief, Public Works Director Jack Felton, Finance Director Duane Dvorak, and Librarian Mary Ellen Emmons. The city's museum manager, John Cooper, already had resigned when Sarah eliminated his position. The new mayor's startling demand for resignations tested the department heads' willingness to transfer their loyalties to the new administration.

"Wasilla is moving forward in a positive direction," Sarah said. "This is the time for the department heads to let me know if they plan to move forward or if it's time for a change."


Tensions ran high for several months before she eventually fired the police chief. Her action caused [city councilman] Nick Carney's simmering resentment to boil over. Carney, the fired police chief, and the ex-mayor formed a citizen's group called Concerned Citizens for Wasilla to discuss ousting the new mayor. About seventy people showed up for the first meeting, including Palin supporters.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, what followed was "two hours of sometimes raucous debate, occasionally interrupted by an incoherent man in his socks threatening to sue Carrs (a local grocery chain) and the fire marshal."

In the end, Concerned Citizens of Wasilla decided not to pursue a recall effort but instead to seek better communications with the mayor. The ex-police chief filed a lawsuit for contract violation, wrongful termination, and gender discrimination. He lost the case two years later.

Demanding cabinet members' resignations — and then refusing to immediately accept them, but holding on to them — is a technique employed to good effect, by the way, by Abraham Lincoln to control his feuding cabinet. (See Doris Kearns Goodwin's excellent book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.)

Johnson goes on to relate that Stein ran against Palin again in the 1999 election. This time she beat him 826 to 255.

As for the librarian, she's not mentioned again by Johnson, but the Anchorage Daily News reports that Librarian Emmons' resignation, demanded as a loyalty test when Palin took office, was offered but then not accepted; she'd passed the loyalty test. She was asked by Palin, hypothetically, if she'd object if the mayor told her to remove books, and Emmons vigorously insisted that she would. In fact, there's no indication that Mayor Palin ever did make such a request at any time — the hypothetical question at the beginning of her term as mayor was another test, indeed, one that she must have been expected to pass by saying she'd refuse to cooperate with a book ban — for Ms. Emmons continued as the Wasilla librarian until August 1999, when she resigned.

Bottom line: Much ado about nothing. Gov. Palin has some sharp elbows that she's employed in the public interest, and some who've got elbow-shaped bruises don't much like her. They seem to be in a distinct minority, though.

(9) A.W. made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 9:32:26 PM | Permalink

Part of the problem here is the court-created RIGHT to a state job, which you can't take away without due process.

In a rational world, palin should be allowed to can his ass, and let the voters decide what they think. But of course that won't happen.

(10) Jim H made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 9:40:20 PM | Permalink

RW: Why didn't you guys call the police?

SP: We knew that Mike's job was probably on the line... [I]f he was drinking and he had his gun on his hip and he had just driven home in a cop car his job was definitely gonna be in jeopardy. (Transcript of SP)

This is a transcript of a police interview with Palin concerning the Feb. 17 2005 incident where Palin and her sister's neighbor were standing watching an angry Wooten confronting her sister through the window of her sister's house. Palin drove over to her sister's house after she and her son, TracK had heard the threats on a open line from the Palin home. Palin watched for 15 minuets until she needed to leave for a meeting, and the neighbor agreed to call 911 if the confrontation turned violent. Later, Palin's sister apparently filed a complaint and Palin submitted a detailed letter to Grimes relating other family incidents and unrelated incidents uncovered by a private investigator retained by Palin's husband, Todd.

It doesn't seem likely that Palin -- who initially was concerned that Wooten's job might be in jeopardy for a single incident, and later after learning of more disturbing incidents complained to the Director of the Alaska State Troopers -- would 29 months later, as governor, fire the Public Safety Commissioner solely to fire Wooten. Grimes failure to take more decisive action suggests the possibility of widespread corruption within the state police. (Wooten had bragged that he was protected in his job.) Gov. Palin, having patiently waited for the police investigation, became properly concerned when appropriate action was not taken that police officials were protecting their bad cops. As governor she had an obligation to act if supervisory officials were covering up police misconduct. The fact that Gov. Palin’s suspicions were based on her personal knowledge of the situation does not preclude her from meeting her responsibilities to the public. Given Monegan’s other deficiencies, which Gov. Palin belatedly put in writing, her decision to move Monegan to a new job and to find a new director of public safety is, other than ignoring the problem, the only approach to what admittedly is a sticky situation.

(11) SAZMD made the following comment | Sep 5, 2008 11:29:52 PM | Permalink

Here's a link to Wooten's "side of the story" I didn't have the stomach to watch the video listed on CNN.
There are a number of links on the page with the story. Looks like after all the personal smears aren't panning out, the MSM is hanging their hats on this.

(12) Mike Thomas made the following comment | Sep 6, 2008 12:29:17 AM | Permalink

From the WaPo, here is the explanation for the taser incident which you insist on calling "child abuse."

Wooten said he deeply regretted the Taser incident, offering an extensive explanation. He said the device was set on "test" and contained less power than an electric fence. Wooten said he shocked boy using clips attached to his shirt and not darts fired from the gun.

He said his stepson became curious and wanted to feel the Taser in the same way that troopers tested the device on themselves during training.

"He was inquiring about the Taser and all the ins and outs about it," Wooten said. "I hooked him up to one of the training aides and turned it on for less than a second. I had him on the living room floor with pillows around him and made it as safe as possible. When it was over he thought it was great and wanted to do it all again. He was bragging about it and telling everyone in the family about it."

Jon Marc Peterson, one of Wooten's attorneys, said the Taser incident was a violation of policy because he was using state equipment for personal use. "It was not the actual Tasing of the stepson that was the issue," he said.

Wooten's wife was in the home at the time, investigative reports state. The boy's extended family, including Chuck Heath, the father of Sarah Palin, thought the story was humorous, Wooten said.

"If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't do it," Wooten said. "It's one of those situations that nobody cared about. Everybody laughed about it, until several years later and it was made to be something it wasn't. It wasn't a good idea."

So, are you still going to stand by calling this "child abuse" and if so, does that mean that Sarah Palin's father thinks child abuse is funny?

(13) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 6, 2008 2:11:19 AM | Permalink

Mr. Thomas: In the future, if you're going to quote something from the internet here, provide a link, please. (Just this once, I've looked it up for you; the story you quoted from is here.)

Yes, I stand by calling it child abuse. To begin with, the lawyers' explanation is flatly inconsistent with Col. Grimes' letter, which refers to the fact that Wooten was a Taser instructor and as such had been trained in the "risks associated with the use of the weapon on a child." Wooten and his lawyer apparently think the rest of the world are idiots if they want us to believe that the only problem the Department had with the Tasering of a child was that it was using state property. That is utter nonsense. It is a weapon; the fact that it's government property makes the child abuse worse, but it would have been child abuse even if the Taser had been Wooten's personal property. (Which it couldn't have been; models that shoot prongs are generally only sold to law enforcement agencies, even though they can also be used in "contact mode" without discharging the propulsion cartridge.)

Other reports I've read, including that filed by the Palin family as part of their complaint to the Department, reported that Bristol Palin was a witness to the Tasering and was terrified about it. The child had a large welt from the shock. His mother was furious. If Chuck Palin Heath laughed — and I emphatically do not accept WOOTEN'S assertion that he did, Wooten is a pathological liar who initially denied and then admitted most of the incidents in Col. Grimes' report — then yes, I would disagree with Chuck Heath. But I will bet you $100 that Chuck Heath never did that, at least not after hearing the full story, Mr. Thomas. Name your stakeholder and I'll put my check in the mail as soon as he confirms that he's received yours.

I assume that in the meantime, we can put you in the group of people who support Tasering 10-year-olds. You okay with that? And what's your position on law enforcement officers who are supposed to enforce the gaming laws using deadly weapons to break them? Shall we just put you down in favor of law enforcement officers flouting the law in general?

Finally, I hope you have a great deal of influence on the Obama campaign, and will encourage them to spread this "excuse" from Trooper Wooten. Indeed, I encourage you to cut and paste this same snippet all across the internet. I have a feeling it's maybe not quite as excuplatory in the eyes of the average person as you (or Wooten, or his attorneys, or the WaPo reporters) may think it is.

(14) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 6, 2008 2:55:46 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Thanks for clearing both issues up. I wasn't clear on my second point: I didn't mean that Billyboy was denied access to the Board of Managers's evidence, but that he found that he didn't have the procedural protections the citizenry does. As you say, he got them anyway, but not as a matter of right. Senator French is taking a gigantic gamble. If he can't prove his case, whether Palin wins or loses, he'll have one hell of an enemy, and rightly so. Here's hoping French fails and has to take the consequences.

Without knowing a single detail of Palin's term as mayor, I can see some explosive ingredients:

a) Palin's female, and some of the department heads were male. Not all men work well for a woman boss, a deficiency on their parts.
b) Palin, at 32, was likely a good deal younger than the department heads. In many ways, that's even thornier than having a boss of opposite sex.
c) handing in resignations when a new boss comes in is quite common. But if the boss doesn't accept or decline the resignation in a not-specified reasonable period of time, the subordinate should leave, and make clear why. That's a swinish act for any boss to do, and potentially dangerous. You cite Kearns on Lincoln, but the Canadian Prime Minister in World War II, Mackenzie King, did exactly the same thing to his Minister of Defense, James Ralston, firing him using a two-year-old pro forma resignation in 1944. Doing so came within an inch of destroying King's government, and could conceivably have disabled the Canadian Army, just before the Battle of the Bulge. (A good account is in THE INCREDIBLE CANADIAN by Bruce Hutchison.) If a boss lacks trust or confidence in a subordinate to require an undated resignation be on file, why not fire the subordinate and get on with finding one who can work with you? This can be difficult in the highest reaches of politics as Geo. W. found out with Rumsfeld, but Wasilla is far from that level. At the same time, firing subordinates is executive experience with a vengeance. Legislators may fire their own staff, but the scope and scale of executive employment make firings by the executive branch a lot more parlous.

For AW: I don't understand what you mean by "court created" right to a state job. As Governor, Palin's department heads serve at her pleasure; that's in the Alaska Constitution. I don't know if it's an Alaska statute or the Alaska Constitution, but I would be astonished if Mayor Palin's department heads had civil service protection. In either case, civil service protection is not a court created right but a creation of the legislature, likely signed off by the governor.

For Mike Thomas: Good heavens. Accepting Wooten's account that Chuck Heath thought Wooten's shocking of Heath's grandson was humorous shows a level of gullibility I haven't seen in some time. Can I manage your investment portfolio? Or is it under management by the man who signed your birth certificate, P.T. Barnum?

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(15) Leif made the following comment | Sep 6, 2008 12:03:10 PM | Permalink

Beldar, I believe you mean Chuck Heath, Sarah's father, and not whomever her husband Todd's father is.

I can't wait for the VP debate moderator to bring this up, thinking he's got a sure hull-breacher on his hands.

(16) Grover Gardner made the following comment | Sep 6, 2008 4:36:34 PM | Permalink

"Moreover, she's been amazingly lax as a vengeful conspirator, given that she waited until she was a year and a half into her term before making her decision to move Monegan to a different state agency."

The Wooten McCann battles over custody, visitation and child support continued throught 2006 and 2007--ample reason for Governor Palin's continued interest in Wooten's case.

(17) DRJ made the following comment | Sep 6, 2008 11:48:18 PM | Permalink

More on the librarian issue from Newsweek:

"According to one local report, Palin floated the possibility of taking some books deemed to be offensive off the library shelves. The Frontiersman newspaper quoted Palin saying "many issues were discussed" with the librarian, "both rhetorical and realistic in nature"—suggesting the censorship issue was not serious. It quickly disappeared from public discussion."

(18) DRJ made the following comment | Sep 6, 2008 11:51:04 PM | Permalink

There's more on Tasergate at the Newsweek link, too.

(19) Mike Thomas made the following comment | Sep 7, 2008 12:45:23 AM | Permalink

No, Mr. Dyer, I do not support tasering 10-year-olds. I think what Mr. Wooten did was stupid and showed extremely poor judgement on his part. But child abuse? That assumes malicious intent on his part, and that does not appear to have been the case.
You made it seem as if Mr. Wooten had walked up and shot his stepson with a taser in a drunken rage. I think he should have been disciplined for what he did, but not fired.
You have been trying to make this man out to be some kind of monster as part of your defense of Palin. But if he is not the monster that you claim, it makes Palin's abuse of her power in the pursuit of a personal vendetta that much worse.

(20) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 7, 2008 1:31:34 AM | Permalink

Leif, you're right, thanks. Duly corrected.

Mr. Thomas: Not all child abuse is intentional, and stupidity would not remotely excuse Trooper Wooten's Tasering of a 10-year-old, nor take it out of that category. But he was trained to instruct others in the use of this weapon, and he knew better. He wasn't stupid, he just didn't give a damn. He thought it would be funny. That's an aggravating circumstance, not an exculpatory one. "Monster" is a word I chose very deliberately, as was the phrase "child abuse." I stick with them both. The man should be in prison.

Mr. Thomas and Mr. Gardner: If Gov. Palin is on a personal vendetta against Wooten, she's been less effective at it than at anything else she's undertaken in her entire life, so far as I can tell. Yes, there have been continuing conflicts between Wooten and his ex-wife. If Gov. Palin were inclined to abuse her power to retaliate, one would expect to see emails newer than mid-1977, and emails or other communications that were more pointed in saying that Wooten should be fired, and emails or other communications which actually threatened consequences to Monegan if he didn't fire Wooten. If there's no use of power, or threatened use of power, that's causally connected to the firing or non-firing — and here, there's neither — then there cannot have been an abuse of power.

(21) Milhouse made the following comment | Sep 7, 2008 2:50:47 AM | Permalink

(I won't call it "Troopergate." For one thing, that's confusing, because there have been previous controversies called that, including one involving disgraced N.Y. ex-governor Eliot Spitzer. "Tasergate," however, properly reminds everyone that those who support the trooper in question, Mike Wooten, are necessarily lining up in favor of child abuse, commission of crimes with deadly weapons, cops drinking in their patrol cars, and cops making death threats. "Taser-Moose-Beer-Death-Threat-gate" would be better still, but it's just too long.)

How about dropping the "-gate" suffix altogether. The fact that it's used for every scandal that comes down the pike is itself a Democrat ploy to set up Watergate as the iconic scandal, to which all others must be compared. About 20 years ago, during the Iran-Contra affair, what the press at the time were calling "Contragate", someone in National Review suggested instead "Iranaquiddick", before settling on "Iranamuck". Maybe this should be called "Moneganquiddick".

I still think the real scandal should be that she didn't insist that something be done about Wooten, thus endangering the public for the sake of bending over backwards to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

(22) Whitehall made the following comment | Sep 8, 2008 6:18:05 PM | Permalink

Isn't the REAL issue control of the police power of the state by elected officials?

Citizens have a right to accountability on those swore to uphold the law and if the mechanisms for enforcing removal are not working within the bureaucracy, isn't it the elected executive's responsibility to hold the miscreant to account?

So Palin knows from personal knowledge of such a miscreant. He has formal, documented trouble over and over again yet still carries a state-issued gun and collects the paycheck.

The way out for Palin politically is to find other cops who should have been fired by Monegan but weren't. That shows a generic failure to manage the bad cops by Monegan. It takes the issue from Palin against Wooten to Palin against bad cops.

(23) Milhouse made the following comment | Sep 9, 2008 11:31:32 PM | Permalink

Whitehall, the moment she does that the attack will reverse itself: if you knew about all these bad cops, why didn't you insist that Monegan fire them? Why have you been saying all this time that Monegan's firing had nothing to do with Wooten or any other bad cop? All of these scenarios are great, but they only work if we first assume that Palin lied about her real reason for firing Monegan — and I see no reason to disbelieve her.

(24) MJ made the following comment | Sep 13, 2008 11:10:01 AM | Permalink

Thanks so much for this factual review of the information. Now, I wish there was a way to get this factual accounting onto more websites and out in the media so that the real story is revealed. Too bad a 507 couldn't take out ads in newspapers across the country that were basically just the this text with a headline. At any rate, please keep spreading the real word...as Paul Harvey says, "the rest of the story" the the MSM and the Democrats don't want to be realeased to the public.

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