Palin’s Neiman Marcus Pants on Fire?

8 11 2008

Think waaaay back to November 3rd…I know it seems like a lifetime ago, and another era. In many respects it was another era. The 2008 election will go down in history, and we were all there, drinking it in as it happened. Nobody feels like looking backward. And that’s just what those who released the report from the Personnel Board’s investigation into Palin’s ethical conduct in the Troopergate scandal are counting on.  Their report is old news.  It’s sooooo pre-election.  Let’s just move along…nothing to see here.

You’ll recall that Palin initiated this investigation of herself, into her own actions, by a board that reports to her, and whom she can fire…..and the report found her innocent! This report conflicts with the ‘other’ investigation by the Alaska State Legislature’s bipartisan Legislative Council. They found her guilty of violating the state executive ethics act. I remember this well, as the giant green bound copy of that report has been sitting on my desk since October 10th.  Here’s the exact wording:

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.”

The not-so-coincidental timing that released the Personnel Board’s contrary “Palin is innocent” finding on November 3rd, meant that headlines on election day in Alaska and elsewhere proclaimed Palin’s exoneration of wrongdoing. How very beneficial for her.

So now that election day is past, it’s time to revisit that slippery little event that snuck past us right before the election.

There’s a lot to cover, and these two Troopergate reports contradict each other in multiple ways. So, rather than to overload our poor brains that are still recovering from the frenzy of the election season, let’s just look at one for now.

The question at hand: Did Palin, and/or her staff inappropriately apply pressure to then Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan to fire her ex-brother-in-law Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten? And was the reason that Monegan subsequently lost his job at least in part because he didn’t fire Wooten?

Commissioner Monegan testified under oath that the Governor called him in January 2007 to talk about Trooper Wooten.

Sarah Palin denied, under oath, that the conversation occurred.

<<<LOUD FIRE ALARM SOUND>>>

One doesn’t need to be a great legal mind to realize that if two people are questioned about the same thing, and both are under oath, and each one contradicts the other one….then….somebody is lying. And when you lie under oath, that’s known as perjury.  And perjury is a crime.  (ominous chord played on giant pipe organ)

Furthermore, although Todd Palin acknowledges talking to Monegan about Trooper Wooten, he states, and Governor Palin concurs that she had no knowledge of this.  And Petumenos tells us if the Governor says it, and her husband says it, then that’s good enough for him.  Case closed.

Only one problem.  There’s the matter of a little email to one Commissioner Monegan.  It is dated February 7, 2007, shortly after that aforementioned phone call that did, or didn’t happen, depending on who you believe.  In this email, Palin states to Monegan”

I know you know I’ve experienced a lot of frustration with this issue.  I know Todd’s even expressed to you a lot of concern about our family’s safety…”

Hmmmm.  So…if we believe the Governor about not talking to Monegan about the Wooten issue, then how does she know that Monegan knows….and if she didn’t know about Todd talking to Monegan, then how does she know that Todd has expressed concern to Monegan.

<<<<ANOTHER FIRE ALARM SOUND>>>>

One of the options that could have been exercised by the Personnel Board is that after the investigation, they had discovered “probable cause” to believe that there may have been a violation of the State Executive Branch Ethics Act.  This acknowledgment would have resulted in further investigation to determine if any violation had occured.  One would think that the above situation would be enough to indicate “probable cause.”

Not so, says independent investigator Tim Petumenos.  As a matter of fact, the report completely ignored the email. (Mental picture of Tim Petumenos sticking his fingers in his ears going LALALALALALALA!)

With all these alarm bells going off, you’d think someone would be paying attention.  And this is only scratching the surface.  Stay tuned.





Palins Testify in Troopergate Probe II

24 10 2008

It’s a busy day for our would-be Vice President.

ST. LOUIS — Gov. Sarah Palin is testifying about a lingering personnel controversy that has distracted from her Republican vice presidential bid.

Alaska’s personnel board is investigating whether Palin acted improperly in the circumstances surrounding her firing of her public safety commissioner in July. The commissioner says he was dismissed for refusing to fire Palin’s former brother-in-law, a state trooper.

An Alaska legislative investigation concluded that the firing was lawful but said Palin acted unethically by trying to get her brother-in-law fired.

Palin and her husband, Todd, will give separate depositions today in Missouri. It’s her first testimony on the controversy. Her attorney, Thomas Van Flein, says she’s eager to tell her side of the story.

I wonder why, if she’s so eager to tell her side of the story, she didn’t testify for the Legislative investigation? Must have been that it was a Republican dominated, unanimous Democratic witch hunt. Nevertheless, Tim Petumenos winged his way to St. Louis to make an investigative house call to the Palins.

Before the deposition, Palin will attend a rally in southwestern Missouri.

Afterwards, Palin will drop the puck at the Blues game in St. Louis. Wasn’t she resoundingly booed for doing that in Philadelphia, even though she brought two of her daughters out on the ice as jeer-deflectors? (shakes head) Any bets?





Troopergate I Shares Documents With Troopergate II

18 10 2008
Sen. President Lyda Green and the Giant Binder of Confidentiality.

Sen. President Lyda Green and the Giant Binder of Confidentiality.

Think of it as a changing of the guard.  The first Troopergate investigation (the one from the Alaska Legislature) has concluded, finding that although Palin was within her legal rights to fire Walt Monegan, the Commissioner of Public Safety, she DID abuse her power and violate the state’s ethics code. 

The new guard is another investigation, prompted by Palin herself, from the Personnel Board.  Presumably Palin went to the extraordinary lengths of filing an ethics complaint against herself because she felt that the Personnel Board would be a friendlier investigative body.  This may or may not be so.  Crackerjack Anchorage prosecutor (and Democrat) Tim Petumenos has been hired by the board as the special investigator. 

Petumenos has asked the Legislative Council to turn over the confidential information from their special investigator, Stephen Branchflower.  The Legislative Council made public a 263-page tome with the snappy title: “Report of the Investigation of the Circumstances Surrounding the Termination of Former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and Potential Abuses of Power and/or Improper Actions by Members of Governor Sarah Palin’s Administration, Volume I, Public Report.”  It’s Volume 2 we’re talking about.

Volume 2 makes Volume 1 look like a flimsy paperback, and contains information utilized to come to the conclusions that were stated in the public report. Everything in Volume 2, is not for public consumption.   I didn’t even know they made binders that big.

So, meanwhile, the Personnel Board and its investigation, which operates out of the public eye, marches on.  We don’t know when they will be finished, we don’t know when they will release the report, and we don’t know what the report will say.  But every once in a while, like a surfacing whale,  we catch a glimpse of this mysterious investigation, before it sinks out of sight again.  And we wait.

Media frenzy as the Legislative Council Releases the Branchflower Report.

Media frenzy as the Legislative Council Releases the Branchflower Report.

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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.





Palin Investigation vs. Palin Investigation. The Basics.

23 09 2008

You may be hearing about how Sarah Palin has decided to cooperate with the Troopergate investigation. Most people who haven’t been following the ins and outs of this whole sordid affair, may think that this is a good thing. They may think she’s had a change of heart. They may have heard something about another investigation, but believe it to be ‘partisan’ and a Democratic witch hunt. Well, it’s time to leave the witch hunting to the pastor who prayed her into the governor’s mansion, and explain exactly what’ s going on with these two, very different, investigations. Here are the basics:

Investigation #1: The Alaska State Legislature/The Legislative Council

First, it’s important to know that the investigative powers of the Legislature are plenary. This means they can investigate anything they want, whenever they want, if they vote to do it. Period. This investigation began with a unanimous vote of 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats. This group unanimously chose Democrat Hollis French to direct and organize the investigation because he was the right person for the job, and they all agreed. He recruited former Alaska prosecutor Stephen Branchflower who was living out of state, to come back to do the investigation. The council unanimously approved him too, because he’s very very good, and very very impartial. Otherwise, the vote wouldn’t have been unanimous, would it?

Palin herself supported this investigation and pledged to cooperate fully….until August 29th, the day she was tapped by John McCain as his VP pick. At this point, the investigation mysteriously became ‘political’, ‘partisan’ and a witch hunt.

The storm rages, and Branchflower soldiers on, conducting interviews, and preparing a report. The report will be finished by October 10th. Have you marked your calendar? I have.

Investigation #2: The Personnel Board

The personnel board is made up of three people, all Republicans, all governor-appointed, and all working for Palin. She can fire them at any time.

The McCain campaign hoped that after they started calling the first investigation “tainted”, the State Legislature would drop the ball. Palin and her newly acquired legal staff attempted to end the Legislative investigation, and begin an investigation by the aforementioned Personnel Board.

For this board to begin an investigation, there first had to be a complaint filed against Palin. So, Palin filed a complaint…..against herself. Later, she asked that this complaint be dismissed stating it was groundless. Now she’s changed her mind and says she will cooperate with the board that she asked to investigate her.

I promised the basics, and there they are. There are MANY subplots, and twists to the Troopergate story. I’ve tried to tease these out in other posts and will continue to do so in the future. So, as tempted as I am to go on, I won’t.

The bottom line:

Bipartisan, unanimously endorsed, Palin-sanctioned investigation by the Alaska State Legislature

vs.

Republican, 3-member board, governor appointed, working directly for Palin, McCain sanctioned investigation.

You make the call.