Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Truth about Troopergate 

from All Facts and Opinions

While the McCain/Palin camp falls over itself trying to parse language to say that Troopergate investigator Stephen Branchflower was wrong to say that Sarah Palin violated the Alaska Ethics Act, Time magazine reports that however one interprets the report issued Friday, it is clear Palin and her husband showed a "disturbing" lack of judgment and a great deal of self-serving immaturity.
Did Governor Sarah Palin abuse the power of her office in trying to get her former brother-in-law, State Trooper Mike Wooten, fired? Yes.

Was the refusal to fire Mike Wooten the reason Palin fired Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan? Not exclusively, and it was within her rights as the states chief executive to fire him for just about any reason, even without cause.

... But the Branchflower report still makes for good reading, if only because it convincingly answers a question nobody had even thought to ask: Is the Palin administration shockingly amateurish? Yes, it is. Disturbingly so.

The 263 pages of the report show a co-ordinated application of pressure on Monegan so transparent and ham-handed that it was almost certain to end in public embarrassment for the governor.

... A harsh verdict? Consider the report's findings. Not only did people at almost every level of the Palin administration engage in repeated inappropriate contact with Walt Monegan and other high-ranking officials at the Department of Public Safety, but Monegan and his peers constantly warned these Palin disciples that the contact was inappropriate and probably unlawful. Still, the emails and calls continued — in at least one instance on recorded state trooper phone lines.

via Time: What the Troopergate Report Really Says

Palin and cronies insist she broke no laws because money was not involved. Clearly, they are mistaken or lying. Here is what the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act actually says:

Sec. 39.52.010. Declaration of policy.

(a) It is declared that

(1) high moral and ethical standards among public officers in the executive branch are

essential to assure the trust, respect, and confidence of the people of this state;

(2) a code of ethics for the guidance of public officers will

(A) discourage those officers from acting upon personal or financial interests in the

performance of their public responsibilities [emphasis mine].

All one needs to do is to read the law itself. Again, it says "personal or financial interests." Palin does not have a leg upon which to stand here. She broke the law. The governor will not go to jail over this and may escape sanction, but the truth is plain, as is her obvious personal stake in the misconduct of herself, her spouse, and her underlings.

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Palin Guilty of Ethics Violation & Abuse of Power 

From All Facts and Opinions

Brian Ross of ABC News reports that investigator Stephen Branchflower determined that while Sarah and Todd Palin's desire to have their former brother-in-law fired was not the only reason for Walt Monegan's sacking, it was part of the justification for it, and that made the move unethical and illegal.

I have read the 263-page Branchflower report from start to finish. These are its major findings:

Finding Number One:

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. Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides
“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.”

Finding Number Two:
I find that, although Walt Monegan’s refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety. In spite of that, Governor Palin’s firing of Commissioner Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads.

Finding Number Three:
Harbor Adjustment Service of Anchorage, and its owner Ms. Murleen Wilkes, handled Trooper Michael Wooten’s workers’ compensation claim properly and in the normal course of business like any other claim processed by Harbor Adjustment Service and Ms. Wilkes. Further, Trooper Wooten received all the workers’ compensation benefits to which he was entitled.

Finding Number Four:
The Attorney General’s office has failed to substantially comply with my August 6, 2008, written request to Governor Sarah Palin for information about the case in the form of emails.

More from Bloomberg:
"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,'' according to the report issued today in Anchorage.

Even so, the report said Palin's firing in July of former state Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, who had refused to fire Wooten, was a "proper and lawful exercise'' of her wide 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.

Violation of the ethics act could result in sanctions, such as a fine, by a state ethics board, lawmakers said.

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.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Olbermann's Special Comment on Palin 

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