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. Cindy

    Let the chips fall where it may. I'm sure McCain knew about this when he vetted her, but he chose her as his runningmate anyway. I consider that to be bad judgement on his part... but obviously, it's created a great buzz for him, and he considers it a calculated risk.

    September 8, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. Phil Newton from Murphy, Oregon

    PALIN ----- POLITICAL -------- MELTDOWN-----
    RESULTS ---------- IN ------– BAKED ----–
    ALASKA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ----------------------

    In the Republican gulag which is Alaska, this is but the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

    September 8, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Palins church makes Rev. Wright look like a harmless silly man. Palin stood in front of her church and said the Iraq War is God's plan. Then her Pastor say's that Alaska is God's plan for a place of shelter in a soon coming world destruction where only Alaska spared and where hundreds of thousands of people will flee to for refuge. The church with Palin on stage then shows a world destruction video where God spares the chosen Alaska. First, Jim Jones, then, David Koresh, Now, sarah Palin.

    September 8, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. S.A.M. from Virginia

    I smell scandal.

    September 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. russell

    I hope the dirt really comes out on her ,she just looks to clean..............and when someone looks as if they've done no out she may be the dark horse that rides the republicans to their doom .

    September 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Ron , Berkeley , Ca.

    DEMOCRACY, and the RULE of LAW , will Prevail.
    The nerve of those republican CROOKS.....
    They still don`t get it .....
    We`re SICK and Disgusted with their Unlawful Criminal Ways!!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Palin is a true-blue Republican! She want to change the venue from the elected legislature to another group – all of whom are her political appointees!

    She is against earmarks – after she got hers! She lied about being against the Bridge and nowhere mentions she kept the money anyway!

    McCain saw a pretty face, abstinence only, NRA member and fell in love after one meeting ... now the GOP are treating her like a "celebrity" – she gave her 1st interview to People Magazine!

    That tells the tale right there ... ignorance can be cured but stupidity goes on forever ... just like the GOP sheeple.....

    September 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Brian Rich

    I fail to see how the GOP should be surprised that a conviction of illegal activity by Palin would be a bad thing for voters. Do they think this is all a game? McCain should be in full support of this trial coming to a fair and prompt closing. If he put a criminal on his ticket, he needs to know it as soon as possible. I honestly don't see how he could see this in any different kind of light.

    September 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. texas democrat

    This should have been taken care of by the vetting commitee. What in the world was Mccain thinking? Maybe he wasn't.

    September 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Nice Try Dems

    Apparently if she wanted this to go away she should have just had her good friend go and blow the state trooper HQ up? Works for Obama; he's got a good friend who's a terrorist and no one DARES explores that.

    What's the matter Dems? Can dish it out (however poorly) but can't take it?

    September 8, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. roger nc

    Meet the press

    September 8, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. Barbara

    Since the repubs have no solutions, they put out a distraction "in lipstick".

    Worked, didn't it? That's all we see and hear. Makes me want to puke.

    This nation has problems, and they send us distractions. Change? NO – more of the same from repubs.

    Please post this CNN

    September 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Footsy

    I cannot believe that Americans can be so stupid to vote for MCCain-Palin after the last 8years!

    America doesnt deserve a president like Obama, a man who is humble, honourable, intelligent and above all honest! If you elect that foolish repuclicans it will be your loss and i hope you can live with yourselves for the next 4 years + 8 yrs ( Palin will go for the presidency ).



    September 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. annie - former democrat

    To Anonymous – I would remain anonymous also if I could only blog something as stupid as your comment. Are you Keith Olbernut is disquise?

    September 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. MD in GA

    For months the media and Republicans made Senator Obama's life a living HELL. The investigation of Sarah Palin definately needs to proceed. The MSM also needs to report her church's extreme messages over, and over, and over, and over on all the news programs just like you did Rev. Wright.... Fair is fair...

    September 8, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. VEE

    Sarah Palin, a nther erpublican governor. Remember George Bush. Eiight years of do nothing. Wake up Democrats!

    September 8, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Maddie, Hartford, Ct.

    This group takes dysfunctional to a new level. Exactly nine days after most of us have even heard her name and all this garbage! Honestly, I'm sick of her already.

    September 8, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    No need to fear or slander Palin, she will self destruct without any help.

    September 8, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Ilona Hussein Proud Canadian

    Anyone ever heard the saying.....................


    There are just too many inconsistencies and other gaffes popping up all over the place about SARAH PALIN!

    TROOPER GATE.....(Why did Palin, not go through the usual channels like any normal thinking individual? why didn't she charge Wooten with making threats? this would have become a legal case which would be decided in court.)

    BRIDGE TO NOWHERE GATE..... (Huge $400million project, Palin used earmarked money for other projects)


    The above are only two of the many questionable items surfacing about Sarah and Todd Palin

    Check out You Tube and you will find many YES WHERE THERE'S SMOKE THERE'S FIRE!

    September 8, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. abbyy


    September 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Nice Try Dems

    Oh, and with regards to Palin's pastor, if only he would have said "G-d D–n America" then he would have had all you libs backing him up.

    Keep trying Dems, you only got 50-some days left to keep reaching for straws.

    Obama/Biden –> Say goodbye to America as a superpower. While you're at it, say goodbye to decent health service, income (unless you feel the government owes you or you're a friend of Oprah, AlGore, an actor/actress, or a musician), and national security.

    September 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  22. Ron

    because democrats are controlling the probe, anything negative will not be believed by most intelligent people. due to all the mickey mouse dirt searching and mickey mouse allegations they are coming across as desperate and i for one am very happy. as a former Hillary supporter, it makes me feel good to see Obama scramble. he had his chance, all he had to do was take Hillary as a running mate and it was game over for McCain. good judgment my --

    September 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  23. Peter Zheutlin

    Palin's trooper problem pales in comparison to her knowledge gap problem. Before the government take over of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was announced, Sarah Palin told a campaign audience in Colorado that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac needed to be downsized because they were costing American taxpayers too much money. She apparently did not know they are private companies. It's this take over that will cost taxpayers billions. She's ready to be president, or even vice president? Goodness, what else doesn't she know? It would probably fill a truck load of McCain campaign briefing books. At least she didn't think Freddie Mac was "MacCain's" brother.

    September 8, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Kevin

    The guy admitted tazing a 10 yr old and poaching protected wildlife - and, he says he was appropriately punished. The safety director admits Palin never asked/instructed Wooten to be terminated.

    Dems, you're not going to be able to bork Palin.

    Your candidate is a joke.

    You wanna scream abuse of power? What's worse B O's work [with Bill Ayers] on the Annenburg committee [stearing money away from an Algebra group and toward ACORN -– AND stearing 15M to Tony Rezco, or Palin's staff telling the safety director to deal with a nutty trooper on his payroll.

    You guys are hillarious.

    September 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Obama-Junkie, IL

    Wait a minute! Wait a minute!

    If Sarah Palin and Todd Palin are on the campaign trail, who is talking care of the 5-month old with Down's syndrome, the 6-year old little girl, the 15 year old girl, and 17 year old unwed teen?

    September 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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