If your sister was emotionally battered by a bitter divorce and custody battle and you became your ex-brother-in-law’s boss, what would you do? Would you want to fire the guy?
But politicians and elected leaders are supposed to control those impulses and not use their power irresponsibly. Again, stress the words supposed to…
That is the dilemma that is facing Gov. Sarah Palin, Alaska’s Annie Oakley and the new vice presidential pick of Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Over in Alaska, a legislative panel has launched a $100,000 investigation to determine if Palin dismissed Alaska’s public safety commissioner Walter Monegan because he would not fire Mike Wooten, her ex-brother-in-law.
According to the AP, before Palin became Governor of Alaska, the Palin family accused Wooten of drinking a beer while in his patrol car, illegal hunting, and firing a Taser at his 11-year-old stepson. The Palins also claimed Wooten threatened to kill Sarah Palin's father.
Wooten was suspended over the taser incident and another allegation for five days in 2006. He has since been cleared on all other charges, and is still on the job.
Personally, if I thought someone threatened my father, abused by nephew and hurt my sister, I wouldn’t want the guy around either. And if his boss was working for me – i.e., public commissioner Walt Monegan — and didn’t see the merit in finding cause for firing, I perhaps wouldn’t think too highly of him either.
At the very least, Monegan, who was appointed by Palin, should have been more sympathetic. Or given Wooten rotten hours. If he does this to his family, he's likely going to be aggressive with others while working on his job as state trooper.
Palin has denied the commissioner's dismissal had anything to do with her ex-brother-in-law. As if. And she denied orchestrating the dozens of telephone calls made by her husband Todd Palin and members of her administration to Monegan.
However, in the age of tape recording, cell phones, and instant gotchas, in one of those calls, Frank Bailey, director boards and commissions, was tape-recorded as saying: "Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads. Why on earth hasn't [he been fired]? Why is this guy still representing the department?"
Palin said she welcomes the investigation: "Hold me accountable."
Guess what? She will be. Now thrust into the public spotlight, Palin, who says she likes to fish and hunt, will find herself being hunted by press trying to uncover every detail of the story. Like a fish caught on a line, this may be a story she can’t wiggle out of.
Wooten hasn’t commented yet, but wait until the National Enquirer starts waving dollars in front of him. His story will be a predictable embarrassment.
As with Nixon and others, including domestic diva Martha Stewart, it is the denial of a story that creates the bigger crime, gets you in trouble, and builds mistrust.
The ethics investigation on whether Palin abused her power is supposed to be concluded in a few months, right around the time of the national election. The governing committee voted 12-0 to launch the investigation.
As much as she may want to divorce herself from this scandal, she will be connected to it for some time.