September 8th, 2008
12:32 PM ET
10 years ago

Palin trooper probe chief will stay, lawmaker says

Sarah Palin campaigns with her husband by her side.

Sarah Palin campaigns with her husband by her side.

(CNN) - The manager of a state probe into the firing of Alaska's public safety commissioner won't be removed for suggesting the investigation could yield an "October surprise" for Gov. Sarah Palin, a key lawmaker announced Monday.

State Sen. Kim Elton, the chairman of the bipartisan Legislative Council that commissioned the probe, said the decisions made by Sen. Hollis French "have been appropriate, bipartisan ... and unchallenged" and that French has called the comments he made last week "regrettable."

"Comments about the investigation can be as incendiary as napalm," Elton, a Democrat, wrote to a Republican lawmaker who sought French's removal last week. But he added, "I'm sure that all of us can work in a non-partisan way to accomplish the charge given to the investigator by the Legislative Council."

Alaska's Legislature is looking into allegations that Palin - now the Republican nominee for vice president - fired Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan when he refused to sack her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper involved in a custody battle with the governor's sister. Palin has denied any wrongdoing, and her allies have said the investigation has become a "political circus."

There was no immediate reaction to Monday's decision either from the Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign or from state Rep. John Coghill, who asked lawmakers to remove French last week.

Palin originally pledged to cooperate with the investigation. But her lawyers have asked the state Personnel Board to start its own probe, arguing that Alaska law requires that agency to hear ethics complaints against the governor.

Critics accuse the governor of trying to delay the probe now that she is McCain's running mate. Lawmakers have scheduled a Friday vote on whether to subpoena several witnesses who have refused to sit for depositions in the case, and have moved their original October 31 deadline for completing the probe up three weeks to October 10.

"We all recognize that the attention focused on the exercise of this unanimously adopted Legislative Council charge has become far more intense in the last 10 days," Elton wrote. "Comments that suggest, purposefully or not or in context or not, that there is a pre-determined outcome are very harmful."

The Legislature hired former prosecutor Steve Branchflower as a special counsel to investigate Monegan's firing, with French overseeing the probe. In his Monday letter, Elton wrote that no one has questioned Branchflower's impartiality, and that French's decisions have been made after consulting with bipartisan leaders of the state House and Senate.

French told ABC News last week that the probe could turn out to be an "October surprise" for the McCain-Palin ticket, and that the findings were "likely to be damaging to the governor's administration." Friday, he told Anchorage television station KTUU that "I made some remarks I should not have made," and Elton wrote that Branchflower will not make any comments to news outlets regarding his findings.

Monegan told CNN earlier last week that no one directly demanded Wooten's dismissal. But he said the trooper was the subject of "constant" questions or comments from Palin's staff, and that Wooten "was an irritant to her."

In calling for a Personnel Board probe last week, Palin's lawyers called her sister's ex-husband a "rogue trooper" who threatened the governor's family during a bitter divorce and custody battle. Complaints from Palin's family led to a five-day suspension for the trooper in 2006 after his superiors found he
had illegally shot a moose using his wife's permit, drove his patrol car while drinking beer and used a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson "in a training capacity."

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Wooten said he was "punished appropriately" and was "moving on."

Filed under: Sarah Palin
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. John in Ohio

    I don't know what's worse, that the Republicans would pick a VP candidate already embroiled in an ethics scandal, or that the electorate is letting them get away with it.

    September 8, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. FreeNLovIt

    MCCain will serve the few, the proud, the LOBBYiST.

    For change, expect only one change: name tag replacement

    September 8, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. Tony

    What else would you expect her allies to say?

    DUH! Can't wait until the ruling on this one!

    September 8, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. Tony

    Ever hear of p.... whipped.

    Todd Palin: Whipped Man of the Year!

    September 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |

    I F--–T H I S--W A S--–A ---T R I A L--–W O U L D---

    T H I S--J U R O R ---S T A Y ? ? ?

    September 8, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. LeaS

    Not because she's the Governor, there should be no EXCEPTIONS just like her Republican friends.

    The investigations should continue after all she is running for the SECOND HIGHEST POSITION IN THE UNITED STATES EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT.

    September 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. EC

    WHOOPS..... let's get tapes of her ALL her Pastor's sermons!!

    September 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Dj

    Truth can be described like this: like oil in water it will soon rise to the surface... for all to see.

    When this FARCE is exposed, the republican party will face great humiliation. I hope it lingers until days before the election to eliminate the spin, lies, and damage control that they are so adept at.

    "Pride goes before destruction." To my evangelical friends, please tell who wrote these words. I would be SHOCKED if any of you know.

    September 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Vaxe


    September 8, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. Helen

    ***************GOV. PALIN THERE IS NO CRYING IN POLITICS*********************


    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. God

    Actually, it's "Pride goeth before a fall."

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. Karen

    Despite what he has done, Palin cannot abuse her power.

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. linda from South Dakota

    well,, ms palin, wha comes around always goes around,,, just because u are in a position doesnt not mean you can cover up,,,,(like mccain/bush).. let the investigation preceed,,,,, lets see what this bimbo is about,, she wants to take the bull by the horns,, then suffer the end,, shes just alot of hot air,,, and a distraction right now,, im sure lots of people are impressed with mccains pick of a "woman" but it takes more than a gender to get voted,,

    September 8, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. Sarah Bell

    Sarah Palin is DICK CHENEY WITH LIPSTICK!! You got to give it to Karl Rove though, he sure knows how to pick a VP for his party. The FEARFUL RIGHT ate it up. America dooped again. The unqualified but hot weather girl. One time, two times, three times fools. Who said they couldn’t do it again? Who said America was smarter this time around? Who said Bush couldn’t win a 3rd term if he ran again?? The FEAR FACTOR always dominates. It’s just amazing that a party who works for 3% of the people manages to fool an entire 51% into believing they work for them too. Amazing. I had an epiphany yesterday watching the TV show Hole in the Wall. We are screwed. We are an Idiocracy.

    September 8, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. Tired

    To: JOE KILOZ and all theo the names you use.

    Can't you write like a normal person. What is the point of having the spaces between every letter? Do you thing you are going to get
    more attention that way. I don't even read your comments because it looks so stupid. I am sure other people skip your comments as well. It's look idiotic.

    September 8, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  16. La Raza

    What's wrong with her husband? Can he talk? I heard the retarded baby was not hers but her daughters. Is this true?

    September 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. Rob

    The whole inside story on Palin can be found by Google ing Anne Kilkenny Palin Email.

    September 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Tired of the Nonsense

    Who is Sara Palin –

    Before you swing/undecided cast your vote, here is something you better consider –

    She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has ABSOLUTELY no foreign policy experience.

    Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.

    She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.

    Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.

    She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.

    She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.

    How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.

    ......and she's STILL under investigation for firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan when he refused to sack her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper involved in a custody battle with her sister, abusing her position as governor.

    With the economic and national security stakes this would think a decision this important would have warranted a little more thought.

    Do we really need a candidate who allows her personal views to interfere with her job?????

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. whiteboy for obama

    she will bring mccain down, without the obama campaign having to do anything. that's why his focus will stay on mcsame, mcbush.

    September 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. Angie

    Pick up your chin Palin, no not that one, the other one!

    September 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Ready For Change

    The trooper should have been fired, he has a long record of very bad decisions and should not be a state trooper. Did you see his interview stating that tazzing the 9 yr old was surely not one of his best decisions????? Give me a break! Get rid of this guy.

    September 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. nitro

    Please tell me who is running for president Palin or McCain? She in the press 3 times as much as he is.

    September 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Jackie

    McCain definitely jumped the gun on this one. Why pick an unknown entity. Did he not think there might have been some skeletons in her closet? Did he not wonder how she moved up so fast with no experience except running a town of 9,000 people? Heck, I could do that myself. This really shows poor judgment on McCain's part. Do we want him making decisions for ypu? I think not!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Let the investigation proceed. We will find out things in due time. If it happens to be in October, so be it.

    To Juan Carlos: no juror would be talking to the press on any trial. Since this isn't really a trial that has a jury, you don't need to worry about that. I would also ask that you not type in all caps and hyphons; it looks childish and a little harder to read.

    September 8, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. mel from Ohio

    So typically Republican–try to remove anyone who is telling the American people the truth. The last 8 years have been filled with such evil lies and deceit that it is just too insane for words. I hope we can get our country back on track because if not we will be more than morally bankrupt, we'll be just plain bankrupt. It's amazing that we have gone from a world power to a country who owes CHINA (among others) trillions of dollars while we send trillions of dollars to Iraq to repair the destruction of their country which happened while we were waging a war built on lies. So sad

    September 8, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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