Sunday, October 12, 2008

Not Ready For Prime Time

Governor Sarah Palin told us to "read the report" on Troopergate when she was questioned by reporters. Well, I took her advice. I read the report and came to a simple conclusion that confirmed my opinion of the perky Alaskan Governor --- Sarah Palin is not ready for prime time.

The report is 263 pages long and is available on the web in PDF format. (Troopergate) It's a bit of a sleeper, but Norton has had adverse reactions to Ambien, so the troopergate report is just the remedy for insomnia.

The basic factual background is this. Sarah Palin's sister, Molly was married to an Alaskan State Trooper Michael Wooten. Sometime in 2005, the Wootens were having marital problems which resulted in a divorce. At the time, Sarah Palin was Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. The divorce, which involved a child custody battle became a little contentious. (One of the more salacious tidbits in the report a transcript of divorce proceedings before an Alaskan judge, wherein the judge denies Molly's request for a 55-45 split of marital property. The judge berates Molly for purposely being "underemployed" in an attempt to get a more advantageous spilt of marital property and for her and her family's efforts to get Michael fired.)

Around this time, Molly's family (the Heaths) filed a complaint or series of complaints against Michael Wooten. Among the allegations against Wooten were a threat of violence against Molly's father, the illegal shooting of a moose, the tasering of an 11 year old, and driving the patrol car either under the influence or while drinking. As a result of these allegations, Wooten was disciplined with a suspension. This "slap on the wrist" did not sit well with the Palin clan. They believed Wooten was not fit to wear the uniform of the Alaska State Police, and they were not about to let sleeping dogs lie.

Shortly after Palin was elected Governor, in fact 4 days after, Sarah Palin took up the cause of getting Wooten fired. In early January, 2007, about a month after Palin took office, Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan was summoned to the Governor's office to meet with "the First Gentleman" Todd Palin. Todd was armed with a file that including pictures. Much of this information was gathered by a private investigator hired by the Heath family. Todd Palin wanted Monegan to re-examine the Wooten matter, believing that Wooten should be fired. Todd made certain that Monegan knew this was also the position of the Governor.
Monegan gave the file he received from Todd Palin to an assistant who reviewed the file in conjunction with the disciplinary file on Michael Wooten. It was concluded after a "page by page" comparison that no new information existed in the materials given to Monegan and that Wooten received appropriate discipline. Monegan considered the matter closed, and relayed this to Todd Palin a few days after the January meeting in the Governor's office.
Governor Palin called Monegan a few days after Todd received the news that Monegan considered the matter closed. She was frustrated that Monegan would not reopen the matter, and believed that Wooten had only received "a slap on the wrist."
Believe it or not, this was not the end. On February 7, 2007, Governor Palin emailed Monegan to again stress her belief that Wooten should be fired. She reiterated a number of incidents which she believed proved her point that Wooten was not fit to wear the uniform of an Alaska State Trooper. Six days later, the Governor brought up the matter again in a face to face meeting with Monegan. Monegan told Palin he needed the Governor "to keep an arm's length on this." This may have been the last direct contact by the Governor on the Wooten matter, but it was not the last that Monegan would hear of Wooten from Palin surrogates.
Two weeks later, Mike Tibbles, Pain's Chief of Staff had a face to face meeting with Monegan to discuss the Wooten matter. This meeting ended when Monegan said the matter was closed and it was not an appropriate thing to discuss.
Enter Todd Palin, again. In the Spring of 2007, Monegan received a call from Todd Palin. Palin said that he saw Wooten "some 100 miles out of Wasilla riding a snow machine, and that he had taken pictures of Wooten." At the time, Wooten was on leave for a work related inury. Todd believed that this was workers' compensation fraud. Todd called Monegan again in the fall to inform Monegan that Wooten was seen dropping off one of his kids in a state patrol car.
It gets better. On February 29, 2008, Frank Bailey, an aide to Governor Palin called the Ketchikan Alaska State Trooper office. Bailey did not realize that he called into a recorded telephone line. Bailey said: "But you know Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads. You know, why on Earth hasn't -- why is this guy still representing the department? He's a horrible recruiting tool, you know... And I'm telling you honestly, I mean, she -- you know she really likes Walt a lot. But on this issue, she feels like it's -- she doesn't know why there is absolutely no action for -- for a year on this issue. It's very, very troubling to her and the family, you know. I can -- I can definitely relay that." Bailey made another call to the Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety to complain about Wooten on March 6, 2008.
Bailey made one more phone call to Charles Kopp, the former Commissioner of Public Safety. He informed Kopp that "... the Governor's office would like to make a change at some point in the future leadership i the Department of Public Safety... Todd is really upset with Monegan." Two days later, Monegan was fired by Governor Palin.
The report concluded that Governor Palin "knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit, to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired. She had the authority and power to require Mr. Palin to cease contacting subordinates, but she failed to act." Such actions violated the Alaska State Ethics Act. The report also concluded that the Governor did not break any laws, because the Commissioner for Public Safety serves at the pleasure of the Governor, and that the Governor does not need a reason to fire him.
Governor Palin's response to the report shows she's either outright lying or she doesn't understand basic ethical rules. In a Saturday conference call with Alaska journalists, Palin said she was "pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing ... any hint of any kind of unethical activity there." She denounced the investigation, calling it "a partisan circus."
The McCain campaign has set up a web site titled "Palin Truth Files," and characterizes troopergate in these terms: "Since John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, her political opponents and committed Obama supporters have transformed a nonpolitical inquiry into a political circus designed to smear Governor Palin and alter a national election."
Where have we heard this before...Sounds a lot like one of the defenses the Bush administration employed in the Valerie Plame incident, but more importantly it shows us that Sarah Palin is "not ready for prime time." The pettiness which involved the whole Wooten incident is frightening. This is minor league petty politics.
We are lead to believe that Sarah Palin spent her days as Governor tackling big issues in her state --- stopping pork barrel spending, solve complex energy issues, and cleaning up state government in her own "mavericky" way. The truth appears to be much different. Governor Palin seems to have devoted much time and effort to pursuing a family feud. It is particularly troubling to see the extent to which she allowed "the First Dude" to meddle in affairs of state. Sarah Palin is clearly NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME."


Big Dan said...

Nice! The Not Ready For Prime Time Players!

Don't forget, she and McCain declared themselves "not guilty."

Big Dan said...

Don't you love the term "First Dude"? If it was a Democrat, they'd call him a "wimp." But, the rightwing has to make it "cool".