"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight!" - Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) -

Friday, October 10, 2008

BREAKING: ‘Troopergate’ Report Finds Palin Abused Power

'I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power'

McCain's running-mate criticized in Troopergate inquiry

You can read it all here (PDF file), but here are the crucial paragraphs from the independent investigation into Sarah Palin's attempts to persuade Alaska's police chief, Walter Monegan, to fire her brother-in-law, a state trooper, and her subsequent firing of Monegan:

Palin report

Palin Violated Ethics Act, `Troopergate' Probe Finds

John McCain's election campaign last night suffered the body blow which Republicans had been bracing themselves for when his vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, was found to have abused her powers in pursuit of a personal feud with her former brother-in-law.

At the end of the 10-week investigation into the so-called Troopergate affair, Palin was found to have breached the ethics rules which govern her conduct as governor of Alaska. The findings, delivered by an investigator who had been hired by the Alaskan state legislature before she was picked as McCain's running mate, are certain to lead to questions over his judgment, and to queries and challenges as to her suitability for national office.

Stephen Branchflower, a former prosecutor, found that Palin had breached the Alaska executive branch ethics act, which states that "each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust".

Branchflower also concluded that Palin's feud with her former brother-in-law, an officer of the Alaskan state police, was "likely a contributory factor" in her decision to dismiss the head of that force, Walt Monegan. However, he did also conclude that the action had been carried out in a "proper and lawful" fashion.

A committee of the Alaskan state legislature voted to make much of Branchflower's report public after a closed discussion of more than six hours which ended early this morning. The committee, eight Republicans and four Democrats, did not endorse the report, but voted unanimously to release it.

Palin will probably not face impeachment proceedings, with both local Democrats and Repubicans saying they have little appetite for such a move.

With McCain struggling to overtake Barack Obama in the polls, however, and less than four weeks before the election, the report's findings could barely have been worse for the Republicans.

Palin had denied all wrong-doing; her husband, Todd, sought to shoulder some of the blame by admitting that he had he repeatedly complained about the trooper, Mike Wooten, believing him to be a danger to the public. Wooten had been through an acrimonious divorce and custody battle with the governor's younger sister. A number of complaints that the Palin family made about him at that time were upheld, and in March 2006 he was disciplined but allowed to keep his job.

Palin came into office as governor of Alaska nine months later, and then put Monegan immediately under pressure to fire Wooten.

A further finding of Branchflower's 263-page report was that the Alaska state attorney general failed to comply with his request to release information about the case held in various emails.

A number of Alaskan Republicans attempted to halt publication of the report with a series of court cases, but the state's supreme court dismissed their final bid on Thursday, paving the way for its publication.

Alaskan state senator Gary Stevens, a Republican, objected to the report while agreeing that its contents should be made public. "I would encourage people to be very cautious, to look at this with a jaundiced eye," he said.

With Barack Obama building up significant poll leads all week as a result of the public anxiety over the economic crisis, McCain could have done with a weekend free to concentrate on attacking his rival rather than having to deal with Troopergate.

If the election were to be held today, polls suggest Obama would win by a landslide, but the gap could still narrow. A poll published yesterday gave Obama an 8% lead over McCain in Florida, which was pivotal for the Republicans in 2000 and held by them again in 2004.

McCain is resting much of his election hopes on taking Pennsylvania from the Democrats, but polls over the last few days give Obama double-digit leads, including one of 13%. The third of the big three swing states, Ohio, is tighter but Obama has leads of between 4-6% in four polls and McCain is ahead by 1% in another.

Rep. Coghill speculates about aftermath of Troopergate report
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Fairbanks,AK,USA
Impeachment would be a worst-case scenario for a governor charged with abusing power. “If there was something impeachable, then the Senate would take that ...See all stories on this topic


100 Reasons to not vote for John McCain
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(source) Voted to convict Bill Clinton on impeachment charges. (source) Chief Advisor of McCain's campaign, Charlie Black, lobbied for numerous dictators in ...
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Excerpts From Bipartisan TrooperGate Report and Palin's Initial Pledge to Cooperate


By Jeralyn, Section Elections 2008 
Posted on Fri Oct 10, 2008 at 09:52:02 PM EST 
Tags: Sarah PalinTrooperGate (all tags)


The full TrooperGate report is here (pdf). Pages 65-67 with key findings on Gov. Sarah Palin are reproduced here (pdf).


Below are some key excerpts from the report, followed by several news articles showing that contrary to claims by Palin and the McCain campaign, the investigation was bipartisan from start to finish -- and Palin herself initially pledged to cooperate with the legislature. [More...]


  • “For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin Abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, Page 8]


  • “Compliance with the code of ethics is not optional....“The evidence supports the conclusion that Governor Palin, at the least, engaged in ‘official action’ by her inaction if not her active participation or assistance to her husband in attempting to get Trooper Wooten fired [and there is evidence of her active participation. [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 65-6]


  • She knowingly, as that term is defined in the above cited statutes, permitted Todd Palin to use the Governor’s office and the resources of the Governor’s office, including access to state employees, to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired. Her conduct violated AS 39.52.110(a) of the Ethics Act.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 65-6]


  • “Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 66]


  • “In this case, Governor Palin has declined to provide an interview. An interview would have assisted everyone to better understand her motives and perhaps help explain why she was so apparently intent upon g Trooper Wooten fired in spite of the fact she knew he had been disciplined following the Administrative Investigation.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 66]


  • “Governor Palin has stated publically that she and her family feared Trooper Wooten. Yet the evidence presented has been inconsistent with such claims of fear.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 67]


  • “Finally, it is noteworthy that in almost every contact with subordinate employees, Mr. Palin’s comments were couched in terms of his desire to see Trooper Wooten fired for reasons that had nothing to do with fear.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 67]


  • “I conclude that such claims of fear were not bona fide and were offered to provide cover for the Palin’s real motivation: to get Trooper Wooten fired for personal family related reasons. [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 67]


  • “The Attorney’ General’s Office failed to substantially comply with my August 6, 2008 request to Governor Sarah Palin for information about the case in the form of emails.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 74]





  • JULY 28: Joint Legislative Council of the Legislature Voted Unanimously to Appoint a Special Counsel to Investigate Palin Abuse of Power Claim. The Alaska State Legislature’s Legislative Council voted 12-0 to approve $100,000 for a special investigator to begin an investigation into claims Palin fired a former state official because he would not fire a state trooper who was involved in a bitter custody battle with Palin’s sister. [KTVA 11, 07/28/08]


  • Legislative Council Is a Bipartisan, Bicameral Panel. “The decision came from the Legislative Council, a bipartisan panel of state senators and representatives… The Legislative Council is a panel of lawmakers who tend to legislative business when lawmakers are not meeting in regular session.” [Anchorage Daily News, 7/29/08]


  • Independent Investigator, Not the Committee Will Conduct the Investigation. “The committee itself will not conduct the probe. Rather, it will hire an independent investigator to explore whether Palin, her family or members of her administration pressured Monegan to fire an Alaska state trooper involved in a rough divorce from Palin's sister.” [Anchorage Daily News, 7/29/08]


  • Palin Supporters AND Detractors Agreed the Investigation Was Needed. “Supporters as well as detractors of the Republican governor generally agreed the legislative investigation is needed into the circumstances leading up to Monegan's dismissal.” [Anchorage Daily News, 7/29/08]


  • Republican Senator Therriault, a Palin Ally, Hoped Investigator Could See If There’s Any Legitimacy to the Accusations Against Governor Palin. Republican Sen. Gene Therriault, a Palin ally, said, “Unfortunately, with partisan politics and talk shows and bloggers, there's probably just as much noise as substance.” He added, “Hopefully, what the investigator can do is sift through it and see if there's any legitimacy.” [Anchorage Daily News, 7/29/08]


  • Republican Senate President, Who Had Clashed With Palin, Said Investigation Was “Absolutely” Needed. Republican Senate President Lyda Green, from Wasilla, said the investigation is “absolutely” needed. “I'm hoping for a clean bill for everybody -- that everyone has acted honorably,” said Green. [Anchorage Daily News, 7/29/08]


  • Republicans Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom Said “For the Overall Good of Our State, We Just Need to Get to the Bottom of This.” Republican Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom said, “We've had a cloud over our body the last few years since the (federal) investigations have occurred. For the overall good of our state, we just need to get to the bottom of this.” [AP, 7/29/08]


  • Republican House Speaker John Harris Said If Laws Were Broken That Needs to Be Curbed and “It Needs to Be Done Quickly.” Republican House Speaker John Harris said, “If there were laws broken, or if somebody used abuse of power, that needs to be curbed. And it needs to be done quickly.’” [AP, 7/22/08]


  • SEPTEMBER 12: Two Democrats and One Republican Voted to Issue Subpoenas to Compel Palin Administration Officials and Todd Palin to Appear Before the Independent Investigation. “Alaska lawmakers voted Friday to subpoena the husband of Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, in a move that transformed a messy state personnel issue into a national campaign controversy. The lawmakers acted at the request of Stephen Branchflower, who is in the midst of an investigation into the governor's dismissal of the state's director of public safety. Branchflower said he also wants to interview the governor, but omitted her from the 13-person list of subpoena targets he presented to the lawmakers overseeing his investigation… Two Democrats and one Republican voted for the subpoenas, rejecting attempts by the other two Republicans on the panel to delay them until after the November election. Sen. Charlie Huggins, a Republican from Palin's hometown of Wasilla, appeared in camouflage pants on a short break from moose hunting to cast his vote.” [AP, 9/12/08]


  • Republican Effort to Stop the Independent Investigation Was Shot Down By Republican Senator From Wasilla. “Republican efforts to delay the probe until after the Nov. 4 election were thwarted when GOP state Sen. Charlie Huggins, who represents Palin's hometown of Wasilla, sided with Democrats. ‘Let's just get the facts on the table,’ said Huggins, who appeared in camouflage pants to vote during a break from moose hunting.” [Anchorage Daily News, 9/12/08]


  • OCTOBER 10: Legislative Council Voted Unanimously to Release the Report. “The report by investigator Steve Branchflower was made public late this afternoon by a 12-0 vote of the Legislative Council, which authorized the investigation.” [Anchorage Daily News, 10/10/08]




  • JULY 19: Palin Said “We Would Never Prohibit, or Be Less Than Enthusiastic About Any Kind of Investigation.” On July 19, 2008,KTUU reported that Palin stated, “We would never prohibit, or be less than enthusiastic about any kind of investigation. Let’s deal in the facts, and you do that via investigation.” [KTUU, 7/19/2008]


  • JULY 21: Palin Herself Urged the Legislature to Hold Her Accountable. “I've said all along, 'Hold me accountable,'” Palin said. “I did not ask him to hire or fire anyone in the two years that we worked together. If it takes an investigation to prove that to Alaskans, then so be it, certainly.” [AP, 7/22/08]


  • JULY 29: Palin’s Spokeswoman Said She Would Answer Questions About Troopergate. On July 29, 2008, according to the Anchorage Daily News, “Sharon Leighow, the governor's spokeswoman, said Palin ‘doesn't see a need for a formal investigation,’ but is willing to answer questions. Leighow added, ‘The governor has said all along that she will fully cooperate with an investigation and her staff will cooperate as well.’” [Anchorage Daily News, 7/29/08]


  • JULY 31: Palin on the Investigation – “It’s Cool. I Want them to Ask Me the Questions.” Asked in an interview about the investigation, Palin said, “A couple of lawmakers who weren't happy with that decision certainly are looking at me as kind of a target right now and wanting to probe and find out why I did replace this Cabinet member. And it's cool. I want them to ask me the questions. I don't have anything to hide and didn't do anything wrong there. And it is a governor's prerogative, a right to fill that Cabinet with members whom she or he believes will do best for the people whom we are serving. So I look forward to any kind of investigation or questions being asked because got nothing to hide.’ [Kudlow & Company, 7/31/08]


  • AUGUST 13: Both Palin and AG Colberg Pledged to Cooperate With the Investigation. In a news conference, both Palin and AG Colberg pledged to cooperate with the investigation. Palin said, “As we have said all alone [sic] all along we will fully cooperate with the legislature’s investigation.” Colberg said, “Instead of saying we’re throwing up the barriers and we’re going to resist this from day one and we’re not going to cooperate, we’re going to provide what we’ve found.” [Palin Press Conference, 8/13/08; video available here]


< TrooperGate Report: Palin Abused the Power of Her Office

OpEdNews: Sarah Palin Broke The Ethics Law In Alaska, And Can Be Impeached


The Recently-Released Report Says:


"Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit: To get Trooper Michael Wooten fired,"


Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aXKt37HYgjK4&refer=home


Note: The report uses the vague term "personal agenda" rather than the more precise  term "personal interest," which is a specific violation of state law.


But it seems to me that the "personal agenda" of firing Trooper Michael Wooten is exactly the same thing as a "personal interest" in firing Trooper Michael Wooten. And this makes her "impermissible pressure" an actual violation of Alaska state law, not merely an improper thing to do.


It appears to me that she violated both Sec. 39.52.110 (Scope of code) and Sec. 39.52.120. (Misuse of official position)


The State Law Says: 
(Please note the precise term "personal or financial interest")


Article 02. CODE OF ETHICS


Sec. 39.52.110. Scope of code.

(a) The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust. (more)

and . . .


Sec. 39.52.120. Misuse of official position. (b) A public officer may not (3) use state time, property, equipment, or other facilities to benefit personal or financial interests; (4) take or withhold official action in order to affect a matter in which the public officer has a personal or financial interest; (5) attempt to benefit a personal or financial interest through coercion of a subordinate or require another public officer to perform services for the private benefit of the public officer at any time; (more) 


The Alaska Constitution Says:


Section 2.20 - Impeachment.


All civil officers of the State are subject to impeachment by the legislature. Impeachment shall originate in the senate and must be approved by a two-thirds vote of its members. The motion for impeachment shall list fully the basis for the proceeding. Trial on impeachment shall be conducted by the house of representatives. A supreme court justice designated by the court shall preside at the trial. Concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the house is required for a judgment of impeachment. The judgment may not extend beyond removal from office, but shall not prevent proceedings in the courts on the same or related charges. (More)




Rev. Bill McGinnis is an Internet Christian minister, writer and publisher. He is Director of LoveAllPeople.org, a small private think tank in Alexandria, Virginia, and all of its related websites, including :

InternetChurchOfChrist.org,CommitteeForTheGoldenRule.org,CivicAmerican.com, and AmericanDemocrat.net. His agenda is to help maximize the happiness and well-being of all people. His blog is located at http://blog.myspace.com/revbillmcginnis

Palin Violated Ethics Act, `Troopergate' Probe Finds (Update2) 



By Tony Hopfinger


Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Alaska Governor Sarah Palin abused her authority and violated state ethics rules by letting her husband use her office to press for the firing of a state trooper, a state legislative investigator reported.


``Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda,'' according to the report that was issued today in Anchorage.


Even so, the report said Palin's dismissal of former state Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, who had refused to fire Trooper Michael Wooten, was a ``proper and lawful exercise'' of her authority to fire department heads for any reason. Monegan contends the governor dismissed him for refusing to fire Wooten, who was involved in a divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister.


The report on Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, was released less than a month before the Nov. 4 election as she is trying to help the party's presidential candidateJohn McCain, overcome Democrat Barack Obama's lead in national polls.


`Deeply Troubled'


`It's one more blow to a deeply troubled campaign,'' said Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs professor at Princeton University in New Jersey. ``The report on Palin raises more questions about why McCain made this choice and how much he really cares about fighting corruption.''


The report said Palin had been asked to cooperate with the investigation by giving a sworn statement, and that she hadn't done so.


Investigator Stephen Branchflower wrote in the report that, ``I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating'' a statute of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, which bars any official action to benefit a personal interest.


Violation of the ethics act could result in sanctions, including up to $5,000 in civil fines by a state ethics board, according to the law.


McCain's campaign has criticized the probe as partisan because the lawmaker leading it is a Democrat.


`Partisan Inquiry'


Meg Stapleton, a spokeswoman for McCain's campaign, said the report ``shows that the governor acted within her proper and lawful authority in the reassignment of Walt Monegan. The report also illustrates what we've known all along: this was a partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters.''


Members of the Legislative Council voted 12-0 to release the report even though there wasn't agreement on the findings, lawmakers said.


``I don't think there is a consensus on the conclusions,'' said Representative Bill Stoltze.


Palin, 44, maintains she didn't abuse her power and that she fired Monegan July 11 over budget disagreements. Yesterday, McCain's campaign released a statement that accused Monegan of ``multiple acts of insubordination'' and called his firing a ``straightforward personnel decision.''


Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to comment on the report.


Branchflower's report said that while Monegan's refusal to fire Wooten wasn't the sole reason for his dismissal by Palin, ``it was likely a contributing factor.''


`Provide Cover'


While Palin has said that she and her family feared Wooten, the investigator said he concluded that ``such claims of fear were not bona fide and were offered to provide cover for the Palins' real motivation: to get Trooper Wooten fired for personal family related reasons.''


The probe was conducted for the Legislative Council, a bipartisan committee of 14 lawmakers that conducts business when the Legislature isn't in session. The council voted unanimously to start the probe on July 31. The lawmaker directing the probe, Hollis French, is a Democrat.


At the heart of the dispute is a years-long feud between the Palin family and Wooten. She and her family accused Wooten of using a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson, shooting a moose without a permit, drinking on the job and other acts of misconduct, all of which allegedly occurred before she was elected governor in November 2006.


His Wife


Branchflower listed instances in which Palin's husband, Todd, contacted state officials after his wife became governor in an effort to get Wooten fired. There also was evidence of her ``active participation,'' he wrote.


``Compliance with the code of ethics is not optional,'' Branchflower wrote.


Democratic State Senator Kim Elton, chairman of the Legislative Council, said he is reserving judgment until another investigation -- this one being conducted by the State Personnel Board -- is completed.


Palin has agreed to cooperate in that probe, saying she believes the body, which is comprised of three political appointees, is a less partisan venue to investigate Monegan's firing.


``It's probably not fair to draw any conclusions before seeing the other report'' by the Personnel Board, Elton said. The board, which has hired an Anchorage attorney to conduct the investigation, has not set a deadline.


Republican State Representative John Coghill said some of the efforts to fire Wooten were understandable. ``Who's going to blame Todd Palin for looking out for his family?'' he said.


An investigation by the Alaska state police before Palin became governor sustained some of the claims against Wooten and dismissed the rest. He was put on unpaid leave for five days in 2006. Palin was elected governor later that year.


Todd Palin gave a sworn written statement to the investigator this week in which he denied pressuring Monegan to fire Wooten.


``I had hundreds of conversations and communications about Trooper Wooten over the last several years with my family, with friends, with colleagues and with just about everyone I could, including government officials,'' Todd Palin's statement said.


To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Hopfinger in Anchorage atthopfinger@gci.net.