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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. sarah

    She also had his boss fired, for not taking action above that which had already been meted out, and she installed a high school buddy – a crony – to take his place. That is some Bush league stuff, for sure.

    September 5, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. power ranger

    Wow, they got to him already. I making him speak and say that it was his fault. Wow I only thought they intimidated people in da hood not to snitch or rat out. But to take the blame?

    September 5, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. Elizabeth


    Clearly if he tasered his son in an aggressive punishing manner, the mother would have called police for an arrest, not "complain" in a letter a year later!

    He has stated he never drove his vehicle drunk. So, because she is VP candidate, she is to be believed over him? It was one word against another.. and the one with more clout won, but not on all issues.
    And in a huge fight who does not make threats? I have gotten so mad when I found out a boyfriend cheated you want to kill them... but its in the moment, not literal planning.
    He was investigated and got his punishment for what was deemed punishable. But Palin is STILL trying to get rid of him.


    September 5, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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