Possible Investigation of Criminal Witness Tampering in Troopergate!

20 10 2008

Well, well, well. Here’s yet another subplot in the saga that is Troopergate. Remember how witnesses, including state employees, Todd Palin and Sarah Palin herself agreed to cooperate fully with the Legislative investigation of Troopergate? If you don’t remember, it’s because that was beFORE August 29th, when Palin was selected to be John McCain’s running mate. It was a whole different world back then. That’s when this investigation made sense to Alaskans, and when we believed the word of our Governor. Now? Not so much.

Ten witnesses, including the Governor’s husband Todd, defied subpoenas to testify before the Legislative Council. When did this mysterious change of heart occur?

Once again, we need to rely on the courage and conviction of the bipartisan Legislative Council, and the likes of Representatives Les Gara to keep the Governor and her administration (including Attorney General Talis Colberg) honest. After the flock of McCain lawyers descended on our sleepy little hamlet, all the rules changed. Now, Les Gara and Audie Holloway want to know WHY. Good question.

ANCHORAGE — Today an Alaska legislator called on the State’s Attorney General to appoint an independent investigator to look into possible criminal witness tampering by McCain-Palin campaign staff in Alaska. Rep. Gara’s call came at the suggestion of the Director of the Alaska State Troopers, [Col. Audie Holloway], who called the potential of witness tampering matter “serious.”

But, as we know, these witnesses did eventually testify in writing, just days before the Legislative Council released the findings of Independent Investigator Stephen Branchflower. Does this make it all better? No.

Their later decision to submit to written questions, after failing to show up for their subpoenas, doesn’t cure this violation, or any criminal conduct by any person who attempted to induce those witnesses from showing for their subpoenas. Complying with the law after breaking it doesn’t excuse a criminal violation. If any person attempted to induce a witness to fail to show for a subpoena, that witness’ later cooperation, after failing to show for the subpoena, doesn’t cure the criminal conduct. (from attached letter to AG Talis Colberg from Rep. Les Gara)

Talis Colberg, who is under considerable public pressure to resign as Attorney General for how he handled these subpoenas, has something new on his list of things that won’t go away. Namely:

Alaska Statute 11.56.545 –

“(a)Tampering with a witness in the second degree: A person commits the crime of tampering with a witness in the second degree if the person knowingly induces or attempts to induce a witness to be absent from an official proceeding, other than a judicial proceeding, to which the witness has been summoned. (b) Tampering with a witness in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.

AS 11.56.540 has similar elements, and is a felony.
The ball is in the court of the Department of Law.

Letter from Les Gara to Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg: 10202008-witness-tampering-independent-investigator

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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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The Release of the Branchflower Report.

10 10 2008

It was a long long day in the halls of the Legislature.  What many thought would be a couple hours of waiting turned into an eight hour day.  The hallway outside the conference room was jammed with media, ABC, BBC, CNN, NPR, the whole alphabet soup.  There were bloggers and journalists, camera crews and members of the legislature, Palin folks and Alaskans for Truth – all staring at the clock, and each other,  and waiting for any crumb of news.

Outside the building, standing in the rain, were about 40 Palin supporters with signs saying, “We love our Gov.” and “We are proud of you.”

Every once in a while a legislator would pop out of the room and say, “It’ll be another hour or so,” and back they would go.  Eyeballs pressed against the venetian blinds could see through the little string holes that Stephen Branchflower was talking, going through the report page by page.

There were Hollis French sightings, and Bill Weilechowski sightings.  Les Gara was there, as was Fred Dyson (one of the ‘gang of six’ who filed the lawsuit to stop the subpoenas).  Palin’s spokesman Bill McAllister paced the halls.  Shannyn Moore and Eddie Burke exchanged a brief hello.  It was like a big melting pot of the Alaska political and media world in one little hallway…..all.  day.  long.

The Palin supporters headed over for coffee at a local coffee shop, and after the coffee was made, they found out it was a “liberal” coffee shop and took off without paying, leaving the coffee behind.

Finally, late in the afternoon, the doors opened and the 50+ members of the media flooded in to the room.

A roll call revealed that 12 of the 14 members of the Legislative Council were present.  The two missing members were Rep. Samuels, and Rep. Wilken (known to Mudflatters as Rep. “I don’t care what the rest of the country thinks. Move to Alaska and then you can lobby me.”)

Senator Lyda Green made the motion to release the public parts of the report to anyone who asked, and to not release the confidential portion of the report.  Rep. Stoltze objected for purpose of discussion.

Discussion followed:

Stevens:  The Legislative Council originally voted unanimously, and laid out the rules of the investigation.  It was designed to be non-political.  He’s sorry it was “taken into the political realm”.  Feels it would be a mistake to just read the findings and not the rest of the report.  Urges caution, and thinks the report should be read “with a jaundiced eye.”

Stoltze:  He had some differences with the report, but thought the process was thorough.  Felt the release of the report was a “no brainer.”  It utilized public funds, and is a public document.  He said he had received hundreds of emails from all over the country urging him to vote to release the report, and was hoping if the report was released he’d be able to get through his inbox again.

Wilson:  Felt the report was well done.  There is some speculation in it and she doesn’t agree with everything, but feels Branchflower did a good job.  The full report is more than 1000 pages.  The public will not have all the information.

Coghill:  He was pleased with the professionalism displayed by Branchflower.  He feels the politicizing has “settled down a bit” and didn’t feel it had an affect on Branchflower’s findings.

Guttenberg:  Thanked Hollis French, and Stephen Branchflower.  Says to remember that the report is about “a family”.  Feels that the legislature has done a good job and has served the public well.

Cowdery:  He “can’t fault the Palins for trying to defend their family,”  but will vote to release the report.

Elton:  Thanked everyone for staying up late, going through the 1300 pages of the report.  This was not an easy job.  Thanked French and his staff.  Thanked his own staff.  Thanked Judge Michalski and the Alaska Supreme Court.

By this time it had become pretty apparent that the vote would pass, and sure enough as the list was read, we realized the ruling was unanimous.  I have to say I wasn’t expecting that.

And now I’d like to thank all of you who spent time writing to the Legislative Council with your concerns about releasing the report, and passing the information to others.  I have no doubt that this was a contributing factor.  When Stoltze talked about all the emails he received, you could see the knowing looks on the faces of all those who were there.  They knew they had an important decision to make, and they knew that people across the world were watching.

After the vote, there was a mad scramble by the press to grab their homework for the weekend – a big fat 263 page green-covered, spiral-bound report entitled:  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.

And you yourself may have your very own copy (minus the spiral binding and the green cover)

Just put on some comfy sweats, grab your favorite evening-time beverage, and click HERE

It isn’t often that good people resist political pressure and do the right thing.  I’ve seen things like this go the wrong way, time and time again.  Today renewed my faith in the political process.  I think I’m going to send out one more set of 12 emails saying, “Thank you.”





Countdown to Truth – Sarah Proclaims Own Innocence! Real Report Due Out Tomorrow.

9 10 2008

More developments in the Troopergate story.

Palin has become very fond of the preemptive strike.  Once again, in a less than shocking pre-emptive power play, Governor Palin’s Personnel Board has concluded Palin’s investigation of herself.  That’s right, she decided to just jump right in there and investigate herself, because the bipartisan Legislative investigation just couldn’t be impartial.  Like her.

So, drumroll please……Palin has declared herself INNOCENT!  She’s done nothing wrong!  Boy that was a nail-biter. 

But now, we leave Sarah’s Fantasy Land and come back to reality.  After overcoming every hurdle, every stonewalling tactic and every flimsy legal challenge imaginable, the report is in the hands of Legislators.   Tomorrow, the Alaska Legislative Council will decide what to do with the results of the real investigation – the one that John McCain and Sarah Palin would rather you not see.  For weeks now, Special Investigator Stephen Branchflower has been investigating Palin’s firing of the Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan to see if she abused her power as governor to fire him because he, in turn, would not fire her ex-brother in law because of a family squabble.  Questions were also asked about the Palins’ role in what appears to be interference in a workers compensation claim filed by the ex-brother-in-law, Trooper Michael Wooten.

But before the report is released, the Legislative Council must vote to do so.  There is EXTREME pressure coming from very high in the Republican Party to keep this report from coming out.  If this report is released to the public tomorrow, it will be because of the principled bravery of a majority of members of the Legislative Council, particularly the Republicans who will have had to stand up to their own party.  And that’s where we stand.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note…

This brings us to our final installment of the Countdown to Truth, and the Top 10 Reasons the report should be released:

10: Maybe once the report comes out people will stop naming their pitbulls “Sarah” and making them wear lipstick.  Because that is just all kinds of wrong.

 

 

9: It will give Meg Stapleton the opportunity to stop lying about Walt Monegan and Troopergate, and to start lying about why Sarah Palin got her ass handed to her in the debate.

 

8: If it doesn’t come out then what will Alaska Progressive bloggers write about all weekend?

 

7: This investigation has cost Alaskans $100,000. The last time Alaskans spent that kind of money with nothing to show for it, was on exotic dancers and cocaine back in the oil drenched 1980’s.

 

6: Because the McCain campaign does not want the report to be made public, and when was the last time ANYBODY told Alaskans not to do something and we listened?

 

5: Once this report is finally out we can all stop pretending to like Dan Fagan.

 

4: The report will undoubtedly convince the Palins that they need to return home where surely they will be inspired to add yet another offspring to their brood, perhaps this one to be named “Phlegm Wingnut Palin”?

 

3: It will allow Alaskans to stop focusing on this distraction and get back to watching for Russians trying to come over the border so that we can shoo them back to where they belong.

 

2: Once it is released perhaps it can be given as reading material to poor little Bristol Palin who apparently is secreted, along with Cathy Baldwin-Johnson and hockey stud Levi Johnston, in a secret vault deep under the White House, or in a bear cache in the wilds of Wasilla, until her mother’s doomed run for Vice President comes to an end.

 

1: It will clear the name of Walt Monegan and make his mother, possibly the sweetest woman in Alaska , very happy.

 So this is the last day to send your emails urging that the report be released.  The Legislative Council will meet tomorrow at 9:00am Alaska time (1:00pm EST, 10:00am PST).  At this point it really could go either way.  Great forces are at work here, and we’ll have to just wait and see.  Thanks to all who have been helping from near and far.

Email addresses are in the comments.

 (h/t to Gryphen, our Top 10 Guy)