Gov. Sarah Palin just won an important vote. Despite Alaska's legislature finding that she abused her power by firing a public safety commissioner, the state personnel board issued its own report and said she didn't violate "Alaska Executive Ethics Act in connection with these matters."
Those matters were reportedly being annoyed that Walt Monegan, the public safety commissioner, wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, state trooper Mike Wooten, who she despised. ?As we reported, Palin denied the claim and said Monegan was fired in July because she wanted the department to head in a new direction. The case became known as Palin's Troopergate.
"The Governor is grateful that this investigation has provided a fair and impartial review of this matter and upholds the Governor's ability to take measures when necessary to ensure that Alaskans have the best possible team working to serve them," Palin’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said in a statement after the report was released Monday. ?
However, Monegan is as confused as others by this new report.
Monegan told The Associated Press on Monday he was "perplexed and disappointed" by the latest report, which was prepared by Timothy Petumenos, an independent investigator for the Alaska Personnel Board."It conflicts with the first investigation and then casts doubts on both of them. So, it doesn't really resolve anything," Monegan said. "If it did, then I could walk away. It does seem to fly in the face of circumstantial evidence."
Monegan said he felt pressure from Palin, her husband Todd and her staff to fire state trooper Mike Wooten.?The investigation by the Legislative Council concluded last month that Palin abused her office by allowing her husband and staffers to pressure Monegan to fire Wooten. However, it upheld the firing because Monegan was an at-will employee.
As the AP reported, Petumenos said his conclusions differ from the report by the legislative panel's investigator because the prosecutor used a wrong statute as the basis for his conclusions, misconstrued the available evidence, and did not consider or obtain all the material evidence to reach a proper finding.
Petumenos said his investigation included much more data, including additional emails of state personnel, including Palin.
However, he did admit that while some of Palin's personal emails were obtained, it didn’t mean that others weren’t deleted and that conclusion would be “impossible to know.” The report recommends that the state address the issue of personal email use to conduct state business.
State Sen. Kim Elton, chairman of the Legislative Council, said he was disturbed by the report, claiming it left out a lot of context in the matter. The legislative investigation was valid, he said.
"I think we have two lawyers who reached different conclusions on the law," Elton said.
Alaska Personnel Board investigations are normally secret, but the three-member panel decided to release this report, citing public interest in the matter given Palin's status as a candidate for national office.