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

Palin trooper probe chief will stay, lawmaker says

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Michael in Houston

    Wow I just learned of and watched this video of Palin at church. She is straight up crazy. Now I know you NeoCons need a hero, but are you sure you want to put you trust in Palin? Politics aside for a moment; does this disturb you that she believes that the world will emplode and the only safe place will be Alaska. Sounds kind of Cult memberish to me folks. The question I have is she mentally stable? I don't wish death on McCain and I hope he lives to see 100 yrs old but he is up there, he has had some medical issues. That means this Extremist Palin could be our President. I have an serious issue with that. I mean, what is the difference between a Christian Extremist and Muslim Extremist? None. They are both whacky. If they get elected, I might surrender my US Citizenship because I don't want to be close to the United States if that mentally unstable person, Sarah Palin get's anywhere near the White House. And how do you who live in Alaska deal with this nutt? Are you that desparate Alaskians that you chose her to be your Govener? I mean you do have 600,000 folks and that was the best you could do. Wow

    September 8, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. Dejon

    My family is to important to me to elect Mccain/palin this Abuse of power is much of concern. Republicans have a problem with being honest before the American people so I suggest the American people need to slow down and look closely at this Palin because of Mccain age is 72 Sarah Palin had lied serveral of times. I understand that she is a women on Mccain ticket but please think smart !!!

    September 8, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. blaising

    McCreepy deserves a LIAR like SaraMae, as a runnin' mate. Yee Haw!!

    “So Sambo beat the b__ch!”
    This is how Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin described Barack Obama’s win over Hillary Clinton to political colleagues in a restaurant a few days after Obama locked up the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

    September 8, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Billy J -Austin, TX-

    man oh man... I just can't help but think that all this hand wringing over the Dems losing their chance to save our country will come down to Obama's lack of foresight and dare I say 'judgement' to dis Hillary so obviously, and not even offer the veep to a candidate that won just shy of half the votes. If we lose... it is HIS fault. Well.. his, Pelosi's, Reid and Deans fault, for picking a liberal effete instead of a populist.

    September 8, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. LBG

    It is really important to get as much information about Ms. Palin as quickly as possible so that the electorate can vote based upon information and not just hype. The Republicans were horrified at some of the statements by Rev. Wright. .... How about looking at the statements being made by Palin and her past and present ministers in their churches. Do we have to hear again that Israel is being (and should be) punished for the crucification of Jesus by the Jews? That's a 2000+ year old lie!

    Dealing with the reality of having a developmentally disabled child is hard for any family. It is no wonder that Ms. Palin was unable to talk about her pregnancy for 7 months and then never told her own children that the baby had Down's Syndrome until they could see it with their own eyes. She gave herself and her "Dude" time to deal with this difficult reality. How much time did she give her daughter to deal with HER pregnancy before exposing her to the world and making her the most famous (infamous) pregnant teenager in all of history? What kind of mother exposes her child to that?

    I am not a Christian, but my own ethical and religious values are offended by this woman. She is NO Hillary!!!!! Her views represent only a small segment of conservative voters and Hillary supporters would make a mockery of everything she stands for if they vote for Palin.

    September 8, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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