Son of Troopergate.

14 10 2008

Let me start by saying we know nothing yet. However.

The “other” Troopergate probe into Sarah Palin’s abuse of power in trying to get her ex-brother-in-law fired, is taking an interesting turn. The investigation, sanctioned by Palin herself, stems from the Personnel Board. This board is composed of three people, all governor-appointed, two by the previous Republican governor Frank Murkowski, and one re-upped by Palin.

The Legislature, of course, had its own investigation and concluded that Palin was, in fact, guilty of abuse of her power as Governor. But Palin has been decrying the Legislative investigation as a “partisan circus” and a kangaroo court. The REAL investigation, she says, comes from the Personnel Board. So convinced of this was Palin, that she herself is the one who filed the ethics complaint against….herself, just to make sure this Board had the final say.

Timothy Petumenos was appointed as the independent investigator for the Personnel Board. The buzz around town is that he’s a good guy, a competent and aggressive trial lawyer, a straight-shooter, and will do his job well. Then came the awful revelation…Timothy Petumenos is…..a Democrat. (loud ominous chord plays on the Mudflats organ) And not only a Democrat, but one who had contributed to Tony Knowles 2006 gubernatorial campaign when he was running against Palin! (loud, slightly higher on the scale chord plays on the Mudflats organ)

Palin, who said she would cooperate with the Personnel Board’s investigation, is scheduled to be questioned by Petumenos next week.

We took a gamble when we went to the personnel board,” said a McCain aide who asked not to be identified discussing strategy. While the McCain camp still insists Palin “has nothing to hide,” it acknowledges a critical finding by Petumenos would be even harder to dismiss.

But wait, there’s more.

We learned, in the wee hours of the morning, that Timothy Petumenos’ job has gotten a little bigger. The nets are cast wide, and there are more fish than we thought.

The state Personnel Board investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin’s firing of Walt Monegan has broadened to include other ethics complaints against the governor and examination of actions by other state employees, according to the independent counsel handling the case.

Indeeeed….

Two other ethics complaints involving Palin are known. One, by activist Andree McLeod, alleges that state hiring practices were circumvented for a Palin supporter. The case is not related to Monegan’s firing. The other, by the Public Safety Employees Association, alleges that trooper Mike Wooten’s personnel file was illegally breached by state officials.

John Cyr, the PSEA executive director, said Monday the union plans to amend its complaint to be sure the board investigates “harassment” of Wooten as well.

There’s no way of knowing how long this will take, or what the results will be, but we may be in for some more surprises before this is over.

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Troopergate’s Strange Bedfellows.

22 09 2008

Alaska politics is making strange bedfellows these days. Last week Wasilla conservative Republican, and Alaska State Senate President Lyda Green spoke with KUDO, the progressive talk radio station. Green was one of Palin’s mentors at the beginning of her career. But years went by, and the two began to disagree. There were power-plays, and barbs thrown. Palin appeared on a conservative radio program in which the DJ said he was going to say what Palin couldn’t about Green. “She’s a B**ch!” Response from Palin? Giggling. “She’s a cancer!” More giggling. And yes, Lyda Green is a cancer survivor. Eventually, Green decided that she no longer could work for the Legislature while Palin was governor. Her constituents were rabidly pro-Palin and the writing was on the wall. So Green announced she would not be running for re-election in November. This was big news when it happened, back in the day when we weren’t in the national spotlight.

So Lyda Green, who was intensely disliked by the Democratic Party (although they never called her names on the air) made an I-have-nothing-to-lose appearance on KUDO. She came right out and said that the investigation should and would proceed, and that nothing had changed. We were seeking the truth when it all started, and we still are. What followed were calls of praise and admiration from the very ‘blue’ listening audience…. It was like something out of the Twilight Zone.

Now from the progressive community who normally wants to see his head on a pike,there’s another uber-conservative pundit who is engendering praise – Dan Fagan. Dan Fagan is a notorious right wing radio talking head, turned columnist in the Anchorage Daily News. The ADN is frequently criticized by the vast right-wing community in Anchorage as being a “socialist rag”. So they hired Dan Fagan, and now they can say “Well, what about Dan Fagan??” and cross their arms. Fagan frequently talks in matter-of-fact terms about “liberal bias” in the media, and now he has a “liberal media” nest in which to comfortably perch, and continue to do just that. And anyone unfortunate enough to walk under the nest will likely have a ‘deposit’ land on their head.

But there is one thing that Dan Fagan is not at the moment, and that is a Palin fan. If you’ll recall the emails from Sarah Palin’s hacked Yahoo! account that made it on the web, there was an exchange between Palin and her Lt. Governor Sean Parnell, bemoaning Fagan’s treatment of Parnell (a congressional candidate at the time) during his appearance as a guest on Fagan’s radio show. In Palin’s email response, she said,

“His fighting you reveals some evil stuff going on with him. Does he want someone OPPOSED to the life issue in Congress?”

“Evil?” Zounds! Fagan’s been called a lot of names, but I don’t think he’s ever been called ‘evil’. And, do we infer that Palin thinks that everyone out there who believes in reproductive choice has “evil stuff going on” with them?

This brings us to today. Fagan has come out with an interesting opinion piece in the Anchorage Daily News. Here’s a bit of what he had to say:

The real damage to Palin from Troopergate comes with an injury claim involving trooper Wooten when he hurt his back while in the line of duty.

Independent investigator Steve Branchflower testified recently he believes someone in the governor’s office tried to block Wooten’s workers’ compensation injury benefits.

Harbor Adjustment Services, the company hired by the state to process, evaluate and decide on workers’ benefit claims, had great financial incentive in bowing to pressure from the governor to deny Wooten’s injury claim.

Obviously, the state is Harbor Adjustment Services’ largest client. The owner of the company denies the governor’s office pressured her to deny Wooten’s benefits. Why wouldn’t she? Ratting out the governor could cost her the lucrative state contract.

But Branchflower says an employee with Harbor Adjustment Services contradicts the owner and has testified the governor’s office did apply pressure to deny Wooten his benefits.

Branchflower says the unnamed employee testified, “I don’t, you know, care if it’s the president who wants the claim denied. I’m not going to deny it unless I have the medical evidence to do that,”

We know the governor’s office was very interested in Wooten. Dianne Kiesel, a state employee with the Department of Administration, tells me former Palin chief of staff Mike Tibbles instructed her to walk Wooten’s personnel file over to the governor’s office.

And there is the governor’s aide, Frank Bailey, caught on tape admitting he has information that came from Wooten’s workers’ comp file.

The very file that includes pictures, taken by none other than Todd Palin, of Wooten riding a snowmachine trying to prove the trooper was not injured.

Here’s why this is all so damaging to the governor. It’s one thing to try to get a trooper fired because you believe he is a danger to the public. But using your considerable power as governor to block the benefits of a former family member you have a long-running dispute with moves this scandal into a new realm.

It becomes about one thing and one thing only, revenge. Not public good, but settling a score.

Fagan is correct in that this angle on Troopergate hasn’t been explored deeply. We get hung up on tasers, and ex-wives, and affairs, and ‘rogue cops’, but the thing that may stick, is Palin’s tampering with the worker’s compensation claim. With Al Capone, it was tax evasion…you just never know.

It was only a week or so ago that the unnamed employee from Harbor Adjustment Services came out with her information to investigator Stephen Branchflower’s “tip line”. And it has also only recently been revealed that part of the file includes photos of Wooten on a snowmachine, taken by Todd Palin while he was out collecting evidence to use against Wooten. Yes, at one point our “First Dude” Todd Palin was following Mike Wooten around to ‘get something’ on him.

John Cyr, the head of the PSEA (the Troopers’ union), who was interviewed extensively on Anchorage’s KUDO radio says that if those 1100 emails the Palin administration is withholding (claiming executive privilege) were released, they would show that Palin had used her office to keep tabs on Wooten. Cyr, who filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents was told it would cost $88,000 to fulfill his request. “That seems a little steep,” said Cyr, “and suspicious.”

19 days and counting until special investigator Stephen Branchflower’s report on his findings in this investigation.





Breaking Stories on KUDO Radio.

8 09 2008

Looks like it’s going to be another good day to tune in to the live feed from KUDO radio, here in Anchorage. The show Cutting Edge, with host CC will air from 3-6pm Alaska Time. That’s one hour earlier than PST, four hours earlier than EST.

Today, they’ll be dishing some good dirt.

On the show, Representative Les Gara is goint to talk about how “McCain’s people are coming after Senator Hollis French“. French is the legislator who is heading up the ongoing Palin ethics investigation.

Republican representative John Coghill said in a letter to the chairman of the Alaska Legislative Council that comments made by Hollis French concerning Palin and the “troopergate” probe were political.

Coghill, a preacher who is a staunch supporter of Palin, said French’s comments that the inquiry into Palin’s dismissal of Alaska’s public safety commissioner could form an “October surprise” indicated he was not neutral.

Also in the show, John Cyr, the Executive Director of Public Safety Employees (PSEA) will talk about the ethics complaint that was recently filed against Palin by the union, alleging improper use of information from the personnel file of Alaska State Trooper, Mike Wooten – the ‘trooper’ in ‘Troopergate’.

They love hearing from out of state callers, so feel free to call in and ask questions, or share your views, even if you’re not from Alaska.

FOR THE LIVE FEED, CLICK HERE.   To call in, the number is 907-569-1080