Just when we thought it couldn’t possibly get any more smarmy… Prepare for the next chapter of Sarah-Gate. (sliding glasses down on nose, and opening book) Are you comfortable? Good.
When we last left the Governor, she was busy denying allegations that she fired the popular and beloved Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan becuase he refused to dismiss Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten, her ex-brother-in-law of questionable character, and currently embroiled in a nasty custody battle with her younger sister. She said neither she nor any staff or family member pressured him to axe Wooten. But Monegan said she, her husband, and staff members did. Hmmmm. Investigation by the Legislature? Very likely.
The scene today features the Governor (again) and also the man slated to replace (Good Cop) Walt Monegan as Commissioner of Public Safety – Chuck Kopp. It seems that Chuck Kopp has a skeleton in his closet in the form of a sexual harrassment complaint filed against him when he was Chief of Police in Kenai. Despite his little gem of a quote, “I am not a sex harrasser”, what Kopp describes as “hugging a friend”, was apparently not interpreted as such by the woman on the receiving end. She complained of unwanted hugging and a kiss, and the result was an investigation, an official letter of reprimand, and Kopp being removed as her boss. One wonders in this day and age, how anyone doesn’t know that it’s not OK to hug or kiss people who work for you. But I digress…
So, the people of Alaska asked themselves, “How could this be? How could a man be offered up to the state to lead the Department of Public Safety, and deal with matters of….well….the LAW, and have this nasty accusation, investigation, letter of reprimand, and reassignment hanging over his head? And this guy is supposed to replace the likes of Walt Monegan? What was the Governor thinking?”
We hear the answer today from Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow. Here’s how it plays out in my screenplay:
Leighow: The Governor didn’t know.
Chuck Kopp: Yes, she did know. She knew about the whole thing in 2006 when I was on her transition team.
Leighow: Well, she didn’t know about the letter. She knew about the other stuff but thought it went nowhere. Nothing was said about a letter. The Governor found out about it at the press conference on Tuesday, just like everyone else.
Chuck Kopp: Well, no one ASKED me about the letter. It just never came up in the interview. So, I didn’t mention it.
HUH? Sooo…..no one bothered to ASK him, and he never offered. When hiring people, doesn’t one generally ask about such things? Don’t you do a background check? Don’t you want to know if you’re going to have egg on your face, and risk public humiliation and scandal? If the media managed to pry it out of him using the strongarm tactic of…asking…wouldn’t it have worked for the Governor? The mind reels.
Back to Kopp. According to the ADN:
He does not consider the letter of reprimand a validation of sexual harassment. He considers it a “letter of instruction” for future dealings with employees.”
He does not consider the letter of reprimand a validation of sexual harassment. He considers it a “letter of instruction”??? Yeah, and Walt Monegan wasn’t “fired”, he was just offered a lesser position and turned it down. And it’s not really a rainy summer….there’s just a lot of water falling from the sky.
Well, that’s all we have time for tonight (closing book). We’ll see what happens in the next chapter. Will the investigation into the firing of Walt Monegan be declared? Will Chuck Kopp’s name ever actually be submitted to the Legislature for confirmation? If so, what then?? We’ll just have to wait and see.