Independent Investigator Tim Petumenos, who was hired by the Personnel Board just said he will release his troopergate report at 3:30 p.m. today. This is the second report, following on the heels of a Legisltative Investigation whose report last month indicated that Palin had abused her power in the firing of former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan. This investigation was initiated by Palin, who filed an ethics complaint against herself to make sure that the investigation happened in this venue.
Kyle Hopkins from the Anchorage Daily News is on the scene.
He said the report would cover Gov. Sarah Palin’s firing of Walt Monegan as well as a separate complaint from Anchorage activist Andree McLeod alleging alleges that state hiring practices were circumvented for a Palin supporter.
Petumenos has two staff members with him, and each has a thick, yellow-bound document on their lap. I should note that when I called
Personnel Board chair Debra English before the meeting to ask about
the Palin investigation, she didn’t say anything but recommended
Buckle your seatbelts.
*****UPDATE – In a complete stunner that actually shouldn’t surprise us, The Personnel Board’s investigation of Palin, which she initiated herself, has concluded that she did nothing wrong. At all. Ever. And neither did any of her cronies.
Several members of the Alaska State Legislaure who are also attorneys have stated over the past weeks that they would be very surprised if the results of the Petumenos investigation initiated by Palin herself differed significantly from the Branchflower investigation initiated by the Alaska State Legislature. Hmmm. I guess they are surprised.
The state Personnel Board-sanctioned investigation is the second into whether Palin violated state ethics law in firing her public safety commissioner, and it contradicts the earlier findings by a special counsel hired by the state Legislature.
Both investigations found that Palin was within her rights to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.
But the new report says the Legislature’s investigator was wrong to conclude that Palin abused her power by allowing aides and her husband, Todd, to pressure Monegan and others to dismiss her ex-brother-in-law, Trooper Mike Wooten. Palin was accused of firing Monegan after Wooten stayed on the job.
Petumenos wrote the Legislature’s special counsel, former state prosecutor Steve Branchflower, used the wrong state law as the basis for his conclusions and also misconstrued the evidence.
His findings and recommendations include:
– There is no cause to believe Palin violated the state ethics law in deciding to dismiss Monegan as public safety commissioner.
– There is no cause to believe Palin violated the state ethics law in connection with Wooten.
– There is no cause to believe any other state official violated the ethics act.
– There’s no basis to conduct a hearing to “address reputational harm,” as requested by Monegan.
– The state needs to address the issue of using private e-mails for government work and to examine how records are kept in the governor’s office. Palin used her Yahoo e-mail account for state business until it was hacked.
This investigation agreed with the findings of the Legislative investigation that Palin was within her rights to fire Monegan, who was an at-will employee. Monegan himself has never disputed Palin’s right to fire him. However, the Personnel Board’s conclusion that Palin did not abuse her power is in direct contradiction to the Branchflower report released by the Legislative Council.
The fact that this report concludes there is no cause to believe that any other state official violated the ethics act is one that should raise eyebrows. Nobody thrown under the bus, even? Everyone is squeaky clean, angel-faced and pure as the driven snow…..yeah, right.
But here’s the killer. Walt Monegan was denied his request for a public hearing to clear his name, after Palin and her “Truth Squad” dragged his reputation through the mud by saying that he had a “rogue mentality” and committed acts of “outright insubordination”. Unbelievable.
Since the Personnel Board has now refused to grant his request, this means that he has now, officially, exhausted all administrative possibilities in his case, and is basically now free to file a lawsuit.
So here’s your quick recap of the investigation:
The Legislature decides to investigate Palin for ethics violations. Palin says she will cooperate, so no subpoena is issued. Palin sends out Attorney General Talis Colberg to interview witnesses in advance of the Legislature’s investigation, so she knows what they’re going to say. Palin discovers a taped phone call made by her administration pressuring Troopers to fire Wooten. Palin says she is surprised by phone call and concedes it looks bad. Palin files ethics complaint against herself so that the Republican governor appointed Personnel Board, made up of people that she can fire, will be the group that investigates. Palin says Legislative investigation has become partisan and refuses to cooperate. Attorney General tells state employees they don’t need to comply with Legislative subpoenas. They don’t show for depositions. At the last minute they provide written testimony, but Palin still does not cooperate because she was not subpoenaed. Legislature releases report that says Palin abused her power and violated the Executive Ethics Act. Then, the day before the election, The Personnel Board releases a report clearing Palin and all state employees of everything.
My contacts at Alaskans for Truth, who were involved in supporting Walt Monegan in his request for a hearing, are not pleased. This isn’t over by a long shot. It’s unlikely that this grass roots group is going to let Palin skip off into the sunset without a fight.
Stay tuned for updates as they become available. I expect we’ll be hearing from members of the Legislature soon.