The investigations of Sarah Palin
September 8, 2008 16 Comments
There are so many investigations of alleged abuse of power by Governor Sarah Palin it is getting difficult to keep track of them all. So here is a quick round up of what is currently going on:
a legislative probe into claims that she abused her office by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from his job as an Alaska state trooper.
an investigation into the dismissal of the state’s public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, who claims he balked at pressure to remove Trooper Mike Wooten, who had an acrimonious divorce from Palin’s sister.
update! Independent investigator Stephen Branchflower has released his report, which finds that Governor Palin abused her authority. Highlights from the 263 page report can be seen here.
“Last night, I 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, involving the Governor,” Palin said in a statement.
French says the investigation will also seek to learn how the Governor’s office obtained confidential information from her ex-brother-in-law’s personnel file.
“If she was involved, it would be a violation of state law,” said French.
Yesterday, the troopers union filed an ethics complaint against Palin for improperly accessing Wooten’s personnel record.
Palin is facing another ethics complaint, filed by a former state employee and political activist alleging her office used improper influence to award a state job.
Several of the emails suggested to her that Palin’s office had used its influence to reward a Fairbanks surveyor who was a Palin fundraiser with a state job. In early August, McLeod filed a complaint with the state attorney general against Palin, Bailey, and other Palin aides, claiming they had violated ethics and hiring laws.
The Anchorage Daily News has more on this developing scandal.
McLeod, a 53-year-old registered Republican who has held various jobs in state government, suspected that Frye and Bailey had engaged in political activity during official business hours in that period by participating in a Palin-backed effort to oust the state chairman of the Alaska Republican party, Randy Ruedrich.
and here is another potential ethics scandal that seems to cry out for an investigation:
John Cyr, the PSEA executive director, told The Washington Post that Sarah Palin held a grudge against the state troopers and held down their salaries and other funding because her ex-brother-in-law-the-trooper had not been fired.
Sarah Palin is currently being investigated for several allegations of abuse of her power as Governor. The Alaska Legislature has appointed an independent investigator for the allegations that Palin inappropriately used her office to try to get State Trooper Michael Wooten fired, that Palin fired Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan for inappropriate reasons, and that she illegally accessed Wooten’s personnel file. Palin has filed an ethics complain against herself in an apparent attempt to avoid cooperation with the legislative investigation, and is asking the state personnel board to conduct their own investigation. The state troopers union has filed an ethics complaint (presumably with the state personnel board) for the allegation of improper access to Wooten’s personnel file.
Then there is another ethics complaint pending that Palin used “improper influence to award a state job.” There has not been a lot of detail reported about this allegation and it is unclear at this point what the status of this investigation is or when it is expected to conclude.
update: There are two more additional ethical issues that are brewing, the first involving whether there was unlawful political activity in Palin’s office with regard to efforts against the Alaska GOP chairman, and the other involving whether Palin held the state trooper budget hostage because of the Wooten dispute.
update: Public officials are under an obligation to preserve documents related to official business. This is fundamental to the nature of our democracy and a way of insuring that decisions made by public officials can be reviewed and that public officials are accountable for their actions. Sarah Palin apparently did not get the memo about what a “democracy” means, so a judge has had to order her to comply with her obligations as a public official. The Anchorage Daily News reports on October 11, 2008:
An Anchorage judge on Friday ordered Gov. Sarah Palin and others in her office to retrieve and preserve any e-mails from private accounts that concern state business.
[…] Under the judge’s order, the governor’s office must preserve all e-mails to or from private accounts of her staff between Dec. 4, 2006, and whenever the litigation concludes “whose content relates in any way to the conduct of official business of the state of Alaska.”
In addition, Palin and her staff were ordered “to immediately undertake efforts” to retrieve e-mails and attachments that “Yahoo and other Internet companies have intentionally or automatically deleted.”
update: via MSNBC on October 29, 2008:
A new ethics complaint has been filed against Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, accusing the Alaska governor of abusing her power by charging the state when her children traveled with her.
The complaint alleges that the Republican vice presidential nominee used her official position as governor for personal gain.