Report clears Palin in Troopergate probe

State personnel board concludes "There is no probable cause to believe governor violated Alaska Executive Ethics Act."

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November 4, 2008 06:10
2 minute read.
Report clears Palin in Troopergate probe

palin debate 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin violated no ethics laws when she fired her public safety commissioner, the state personnel board concluded in a report released Monday. "There is no probable cause to believe that the governor, or any other state official, violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act in connection with these matters," the report said. "Gov. Palin is pleased that the independent investigator for the Personnel Board has concluded that she acted properly in the reassignment of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan," her attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said in a statement. An earlier, separate investigation by the state Legislature found that Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, had abused her office. Monegan said he felt pressure from Palin, her husband and her staff to fire a state trooper who had gone through a nasty divorce from Palin's sister. Palin denied the claim, and said Monegan was fired last July because she wanted the department to head in a new direction. Monegan told The Associated Press on Monday that he was "perplexed and disappointed" by the report. It was prepared by Timothy Petumenos, an independent investigator for the Alaska Personnel Board. "It conflicts with the first investigation and then casts doubts on both of them. So, it doesn't really resolve anything," he said. "If it did, then I could walk away. It does seem to fly in the face if circumstantial evidence." The legislative investigation concluded that Palin abused her office by allowing her husband and staffers to pressure Monegan to fire the trooper. However, it upheld the firing because Monegan was an employee serving at-will of the governor. Alaska Personnel Board investigations are normally secret, but the three-member board decided to release this report, citing public interest in the matter given Palin's status as a candidate for national office. Election Day is Tuesday. Palin had earlier waived her privacy rights, but others in her administration did not and Petumenos sought to keep the matter from playing out in the media. Documents released Monday did not include transcripts of separate depositions given by Palin and her husband, Todd. That deposition was the only one given by Sarah Palin. She was not subpoenaed to answer questions in the Legislature's investigation, though her husband, Todd, gave an affidavit in that probe. Petumenos said that during her deposition given under oath, Sarah Palin denied Monegan's claim _ also given under oath _ that she had two conversations with him about the trooper. "Both of those conversations were denied in their entirety by the governor," Petumenos said. Palin initially said she would cooperate with the Legislature's probe. But after she became John McCain's running mate, she said the investigation had become too partisan and filed an ethics grievance against herself with the personnel board. Telephone messages left with state Sens. Hollis French, who led the legislative investigation, and Sen. Kim Elton, chairman of the Legislative Council, were not immediately returned.

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