Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ethics investigation into Sarah Palin

Here from Newser are the details of the ethics investigation into Sarah Palin, which is currently ongoing:

John McCain’s running mate comes to the national campaign embroiled in a scandal back home, Talking Points Memo reports. Alaska’s legislative council has appointed a special commission to investigate Gov. Sarah Palin, who’s accused of pressuring the state’s department of public safety to fire her former brother-in-law, state trooper Mike Wooten—who is battling Palin’s sister in a messy custody suit.

Palin denies the charges but has admitted that someone in her administration played a role in “Wooten-gate.” She’s distanced herself from the staffer, but phone recordings suggest he was acting with her consent. “This is a governor who was almost impervious to error,” a Democratic state senator tells the Wall Street Journal. “Now she could face impeachment, in a worst-case scenario.”

The Washington Post has more:

..the 44-year-old Palin, who was selected as Sen. John McCain's running mate today, is now the focus of her own state ethics investigation as part of the so-called "Troopergate" scandal, a bizarre controversy involving the firing of a state police chief and his reluctance to fire an Alaska state trooper, Palin's former brother-in-law who has been involved in a bitter custody fight with her younger sister.

Just two weeks ago, Palin
revealed an audio recording of an aide pressuring the state's Public Safety Department to fire trooper Mike Wooten, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Palin also acknowledged that her staff had contacted Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan about two dozen times about Wooten. Monegan himself was fired July 11 (the dismissal was "out of the blue," he told reporters) and he later said that he was pressured by Palin's staff and family to get rid of Wooten, a trooper based in Palmer, Alaska.

(To counter the "Troopergate" tag, the alternative-weekly Anchorage Press has dubbed the firing scandal "Wootengate")

The accusations first surfaced via the blog of former Alaska state rep. Andrew Halcro, who unsuccessfully ran against Palin in 2006.

(On Palin's selection as McCain's vice-presidential pick, Halcro wrote that "this shocking choice says more about McCain's desparation than it does about Palin's qualifications.")

In July, Palin came under a state ethics investigation and critics have said Palin's claim that she did not know of the political pressure being placed on Monegan was a "little too convenient." One fellow lawmaker, state Sen. Hollis French, a Democrat, told The Wall Street Journal that Palin could face impeachment. After French's comments, Palin ordered the investigation into Monegan's firing and told CNBC last month that lawmakers were unfairly targeting her.

"It's cool. I want them to ask me the questions. I don't have anything to hide," she said during the interview. "Didn't do anything wrong there."

The investigation is expected to cost about $100,000 and last at least three months, according to The Associated Press.

The Daily News reports the Palins' fight with Wooten has been especially nasty and public, with the family accusing Wooten of drunken driving, illegal hunting and child abuse, among other charges, based on information culled from private investigators. Wooten and Palin's sister, Molly McCann, divorced in 2005.

The governor's husband, Todd Palin, told the Daily News that his family was also concerned about the governor's safety, saying Wooten threatened to kill the governor's father and made vague threats to her that he would bring Palin down.

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