Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Investigation of Governor Palin

I think we all know by now that politics can be a very dirty business. A thick skin (preferably one tanned into leather) is required. But I have to say, I find the hoopla over Governor Palin to be one step short of hilarious. One step short simply because while ridiculous, I cannot actually find it funny - and I'm a twisted soul, thinking politics is usually full of some good humor. But this stuff is just downright ugly. Let me explain.

I opened my browser today to the headline, "Palin Denies State Report She Abused Power." I thought, "Well, this one I have to see..." And I'm glad I did. What I would like to do is highlight the scandal for you in its entirety - so that you can see this in the same light as I do. 

Back in 2005, Mike Wooten was on his third marriage, being married to Sarah Palin's younger sister, Molly. Their marriage was not a fun one, apparently. On April 11, 2005, Molly filed for divorce and a protective order against her husband. They had been married for four years. After several complaints, the state police opened an investigation into Wooten's conduct. This investigation led to the Grimes Report, which noted that "unacceptable conduct appears to have continued and even escalated," and "clearly indicates a serious and concentrated pattern of unacceptable and, at times, illegal activity occurring over a lengthy period." And that, "a civilian investigated under similar circumstances would have received criminal sanctions."

In spite of this, Wooten continued to be assigned to patrol the neighborhood of the Palins' family.

There were further accusations (of death threats made by Wooten, of Wooten scamming disability pay while not injured, etc...) but these things, as far as I can figure out, were not included in his suspension. Whether this is because the accusations were not substantiated or because the suspension had already taken place, I don't know. 

Palin herself never contacted Commissioner of Public Safety Walter Monegan regarding Mike Wooten. Todd Palin, however, did. And Frank Bailey (of Palin's administration) did on February 29th of 2008. They wanted to know why a person with this checkered past was (and is) still serving as a police officer. Monegan refused to fire Wooten. 

On July 11th, Governor Palin decided that Monegan would be a better fit for the state Alcohol Beverage Control board, and she asked him to transfer. He refused and was relieved of his duties. According to Palin, Monegan was not supportive of the direction she wanted to take Public Safety (disputes over budgetary issues and the filling of trooper vacancies) and was insubordinate. 

An investigation of Monegan's firing was launched on July 28th of 2008. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Hollis French (a Democrat) managed the inquiry. On September 2nd, French told ABC News that the investigation could lead to an "October Surprise" for the GOP ticket.

The official report concluded that Palin abused her power as governor and violated state ethics law in trying to get her brother-in-law fired from the state police and that Monegan's refusal to fire Wooten from the state police force was "likely a contributing factor" to Monegan's July dismissal, but Palin had the authority as governor to fire him. 

A few more facts to consider when making our judgment:

Since Mike Wooten's divorce from Molly, he has already been married and divorced again.

In an interview with CNN, Wooten admitted to tasering his stepson "in a training capacity." His stepson was ten years old. He admitted to shooting the moose illegally. He denies drinking and driving, although there was sufficient evidence of this that he was disciplined for it, and he denies having made death threats against the Palin extended family. He admitted to the interviewing reporter that he has "issues" with relationships.

In the same interview, CNN asked Wooten what he would like people to know about him and his response was, "My priorities are my children, being the best father I can be... my job, being the best trooper I can be for the state, for the citizens... I was young, I made mistakes. I was punished for those mistakes, learned my lesson. They're behind me, I'm trying to move on and be the best dad I can be to my children and be the best trooper I can be. You know, I love my job and I love this state and those are my priorities." Really??? You were young? That's your thinking? This was three years ago. The I-was-young excuse usually needs a little more growing room before one can effectively use it. Also, the man was suspended for five days - five days!! And we are to conclude from this that the severity of that punishment enabled him to realize his grievous error? Sorry, but... I really doubt it. 

In light of all this, here's how I see things:

Why in the world are they investigating Governor Palin and not the Public Safety Commission? Why would they allow someone with this history to continue "serving" as "public protection?" Does it strike anybody odd that the government officials are this unconcerned with public safety? Would anybody like to volunteer to have Mike Wooten come and patrol their area?? I sure wouldn't!

But here's where the politics of the matter get really interesting. Alaska State Senator Kim Elton said that about 1,000 or more pages of documents compiled during the inquiry against Sarah Palin will remain confidential because they "involve private personnel matters." Isn't that interesting? They get to publish a conclusion without revealing a bunch of facts... and then Elton goes on to say, "I believe that these findings may help people come to a conclusion on how they should vote" in the presidential election. Guess what? Elton is a Democrat.

Isn't it interesting how partisan our politics have become? And to try and take down the Republican ticket this way is... well, yucky

You can all look back on my previous posts to see how disenchanted I am with the Republicans right about now... so I'm certainly not feeling like a partisan myself in writing this particular blog. But given all the evidence, I think they're really hitting Palin below the belt here. It's just not right.

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