September 5th, 2008
12:52 PM ET
11 years ago

Trooper in Palin probe trying to put 'mistakes' behind him

Mike Wooten has suddenly found himself in the headlines.

Mike Wooten has suddenly found himself in the headlines.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) - The Alaska state trooper at the center of a probe into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power says he has "made mistakes, and I've learned from those mistakes."

But, in an exclusive interview with CNN, Mike Wooten - Palin's former brother-in-law - also denies some of the biggest allegations against him, including drinking while driving.

Watch: Drew Griffin reports on Mike Wooten

"I made mistakes. I fessed up to them. I was punished appropriately, and I'm moving on," said the 36-year-old, who went through a long, messy divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister.

In the past week, Wooten's troubles, and his history, have suddenly taken on national prominence as Palin stepped into the limelight as Sen. John McCain's running mate.

An investigation is under way into whether Palin used her office to pressure for Wooten's firing, and ultimately fired Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan for refusing to sack Wooten.

Palin has denied any wrongdoing, saying her decision to fire Monegan involved budgetary concerns and moving the department in a new direction. She has acknowledged that aides and members of her family repeatedly discussed Wooten with Monegan or members of his department, but said at no time did she, or anyone else acting at her request, use her office to press for Wooten's firing.

Before becoming governor, Palin wrote to state investigators in 2005, issuing a series of allegations against Wooten.

In 2006, state investigators found Wooten guilty of "a significant pattern of judgment failures," including using a Taser on this 10-year-old stepson in a training capacity and drinking beer while operating a state trooper vehicle. Wooten was suspended for 10 days as "a last chance to take
corrective action."

Speaking Thursday to CNN's Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston, Wooten gave his account of the Taser incident but denied ever drinking while driving.

He said that he was a new Taser instructor, and his stepson was asking him about the equipment. "I didn't shoot him with live, you know, actual live cartridge," Wooten said. Instead, he said, he hooked his stepson up to a training aid "with little clips. And you know the Taser was activated for less than a second, which would be less than what you would get if you touched an electric fence... It was as safe as I could possibly make it."

He said his stepson was on the living room floor surrounded by pillows, and that he "was bragging about it," and that the family laughed about it.

Asked whether it was a dumb decision, Wooten told CNN, "absolutely."

The 2006 report called the incident an example of "extremely poor judgment," and noted that he has been trained in "the risks associated with use of the weapon on a child."

Wooten insists he has been "under a microscope, and everything I did was heavily scrutinized at the time."

The father of three, who was married four times, told CNN, "I'm trying to move on, and be the best dad I can to my children. Be the best trooper that I can be. You know, I love my job. I love this state."

He added that McCain's choice of Palin as his running mate was "absolutely wonderful for the state of Alaska."

Filed under: Sarah Palin
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Lisa M

    He added that McCain's choice of Palin as his running mate was "absolutely wonderful for the state of Alaska."

    Ah yes but it doesn't look wonderful for the USA.

    September 5, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. Hello!

    CNN I can't believe you are giving the wonderful "trooper" who drove his squad car drunk, TASERED his 11 year old step son, and threatened to KILL Sarah's father (just a few of his lovely traits, some you are NOT covering) ANY airtime. Disgraceful.
    Best dad I can be...after my four marriages and tasering my kid.....nice.
    Lets all feel sorry for him and make out the GOVERNOR to be a monster. CNN you are so bad.

    September 5, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Kris

    This guy is a JERK! Looks like the trooper's gang needs to be investigated – they all stick together and defend their guys.
    Disgrace – he needs to go!
    GOV Palin did the right thing – it was HER choice to make – part of her JOB!

    September 5, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. Lynn Oregon

    I am very interested in hearing all sides!

    September 5, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. MJC

    "Hell has no fury like a women scorned". Sara Palin used her professional power to get revenge for her sister. When she first found out about the taser incident or the drinking incident.....did she do something about it? Or did these things become a problem AFTER her sister and brother-in-law started the divorce.

    September 5, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Morals and Values for sale!

    If he Tasered that kid, he'd be in Jail. PERIOD.

    September 5, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Tony

    Palin Dirt. More keeps tumbling out..............

    September 5, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. John

    Palin's hardness in her speech gives color to the idea that she really did try to use the state to take revenge on her ex-brother-in-law. It showed her as the kind of person who would not be above using power in that way.

    September 5, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  9. MikeH

    Mike seems like a charming Alaskan good ol' boy. Having visited that state way back in '73 and meeting some of the colorful locals, I'd say there hasn't been much cultural progress since those days.

    While this guy is, uh, a bit flawed, he still requires due process, so if Palin tried to railroad him, she's just as guilty of malfeasance as he is.

    September 5, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    There are other ways of bringing someone to justive other than abusing your position as the head of the state government. I thought Repubs were the law and order party.

    September 5, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. Mona, KS

    I don't care. I don't care about Sarah, her pregnant teenage daughter or her ex-brother in law. My gas prices are close to $4.00 and I want something done about THAT. Save the Sarah drama for her momma.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 5, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. AW

    Needs to be probed further. If the guy did wrong,and he says he did and has paid the price, so be it. But if Palin did wrong and got away with it, not a good thing. I say get to the root of it all. Underhanded behavior in high places is not a good thing. If he is a bad guy, shame on him. If the gov did wrong-shame on her.

    September 5, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. maria

    palin has more dirt to come if she have skeletons in the closet they will be reviled!

    September 5, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. Ben

    So that mean ol' Palin tried to get someone fired because he tasered a kid and threatened to kill someone (which would both be criminal acts except the kid he tasered and the person he threatened to kill were related to a Republican, which makes it okay). Yep, abuse of office for sure. Oh yeah, and he drove a cop car drunk and illegally shot a moose. But other than that, he's a great guy.

    I know that most of the dough-heads commenting here in his defense are always on the side of the cops, right? Yeah, right.

    September 5, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. GaryofCircleville

    Tony and John, what would you do with a trooper like this? "Dirt" and "hardness"; sounds like two blue dog dumbicrats crying in their beers.

    September 5, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  16. Belle1

    Nice...he admits to drinking on the job, tasering his son (HIS version makes it sound so nice) and you blame Palin???

    As Governor, she had the right to remove any Chairman she chose to. They serve at the discretion of the governor. If any of you bothered to check the Anchorage newspaper, the complaints including the PI report was submitted to the Safety Commissioner BEFORE she became Governor.

    She became Governor, told the Safety Commissioner she wanted to take the Commission in a different direction, offered him an oversight position on a different Commission and he refused.

    Let us NOT forget our dear Trooper is suing the State of Alaska, and said her personally would take down the F###Bi#### Palin.

    Yup, sure sounds like a Trooper any state would be proud of...don't cha think?

    September 5, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  17. Joe, Boston

    If that was done to my nephew I would do whatever it took to get the jerk fired. I would go even further and beat the heck out of the loser. I praise Palin for her commitment and protection of her family.

    September 5, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. sm

    Some people are convinced that they actually "know" more about the private affairs of others than do the individuals themselves.

    I would not touch these people with a barge pole.

    It is disgusting.

    Perhaps you do not want the laws of the country to play out.

    Perhaps you would rather have The Obama's People Court be the Judge the Jury and the Executioner.

    Pathetic !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 5, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. Wondering-IL

    sure and if you believe all that, there is a "Bridge to nowhere" that she'll sell you too...

    September 5, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. liz

    I think the statement from Palin about "bridge to nowhere" was an insult to the people who live in that area.

    September 5, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. sandy

    where there is smoke there is always fire

    at best sarah should have stayed out of it

    if he was a bad dude....he was the sister's bad dude

    if he did not do his trooper job right...then it was sarah's business

    September 5, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. jfs Memhis, Tn

    Obama is right on this one. Where was the beef on the economy and jobs on the Republican side???? NOTHING !!!! McCain/ Palin have more Hot Air than a hot air ballons !!!

    September 5, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Why, cause she won't be governor any longer?? haha Alaska can keep her

    September 5, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. MIKE

    Why do you send an attorney to verify and stand in for you if you didnt do anything. Plus you let people investigate forever check everywhere.Obama never hired attorney on Rezco case because he knws there is nothing there to hide.

    September 5, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  25. Helene

    Why are we inundated with these white trash stories ? Palin and her gang are a distraction. Look at the report about job losses today, that is the important issue ! It's the economy, stupid !

    September 5, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
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